Erik Jones, Ben Kennedy to Tackle Talladega for First Time; Special Time for Kennedy Whose Great Grandfather Built the Iconic Venue

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TALLADEGA, AL – Two of the rising stars of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS), who will make their first career start at Talladega Superspeedway in Saturday’s fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola, had an eventful start after arriving at the biggest, baddest and most intimidating track on the planet Thursday.

For one of the young drivers, being at NASCAR’s Most Competitive track - especially on a weekend where Talladega Superspeedway celebrates its 45th anniversary - will be near and dear to his heart.

Ben Kennedy, the 22-year-old driver of the No. 31 Chevrolet Silverado for Turner Scott Motorsports, has been around NASCAR tracks his entire life - being the great grandson of Bill France, Sr., NASCAR’s founder who built Talladega Superspeedway 45 years ago. Prior to this weekend’s race, the only vehicle he has ever driven at his great grandfather’s mammoth creation was a bicycle when he was a kid.

The NCWTS’s most recent winner – 18-year-old Erik Jones – has never made a lap around the 2.66-mile venue either.

That changes Saturday.

“My great grandfather had a vision to create a palace of speed, and he certainly accomplished that,” said Kennedy, who is in his first full season in the NCWTS. “I remember coming here as a kid and seeing how incredibly huge this place was. I can’t believe I am actually about to compete against some of the greatest drivers in the world on it Saturday.

“It’s heart-warming to know this place came to fruition and that my great grandfather was able to build something that so many drivers and fans have enjoyed over the years,” added Kennedy, who sits eighth in the championship standings. “People always ask me what race they should go to. I usually tell them Talladega because of the whole weekend experience. It’s just fun.”

“What a track,” added Jones, the driver of the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota, who won at Las Vegas a few weeks back, his second triumph of 2014 in just nine starts. “I have heard from so many drivers that this place is the ultimate track for drafting and side-by-side racing. The turns are so high and banked so much. It’s really something to behold. It’s definitely going to be a wild card for me. I can’t wait to get out there and see what we can do.”

Both met with media during their visit to Talladega Thursday and re-created a photograph that was taken of France, Sr., selling tickets at the first NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega in 1969. Both donned special Talladega Superspeedway ticket aprons and were selling tickets to a motorcycle rider, an old Chevy truck and Chevy Chevelle - symbolic of that first race in September of ’69.

The duo also visited Lincoln Elementary School, where Jones and Kennedy spoke with kids about Saturday’s fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola. Being less than five miles from the track, the school mirrors the speedway with its Talladega Superspeedway décor and NASCAR theme. The children were thrilled to personally meet and ask the drivers questions.

The fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola, which will be shown LIVE on FOX at 12 Noon CT, will feature a hot and contested battle for the season-long title. Only 33 points separate the top four, which include Matt Crafton, Johnny Sauter (the defending champion of the fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola) Ryan Blaney and Alabama native Bubba Wallace, Jr., who is from Mobile.

The fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola kicks off the historical 45th anniversary weekend, which also includes the GEICO 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race on Sunday. Tickets are available by calling 1-877-Go2-DEGA or by visiting www.Talladegasuperspeedway.com.

 

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