Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Inside Track with Alex Kennedy

Photo Credit: Alex Kennedy
Alex Kennedy, a rising NASCAR star.  A name you’ll hear more and more in the future.  When Alex was five, he was racing BMX bicycles; he wanted to move up to Motocross, but his parents had other plans for him.  “Most of my friends that had moved up were already thrashed from crashing, so my parents wanted me in something with a roll cage.  From there I was immediately successful; ever since then we have kept moving up trying to find my ceiling, the point where my natural ability runs out and we have to work on making me a better driver. We haven't found it yet.”  Unlike many of the other drivers I’ve interviewed, Alex is a first generation driver, “Before me, the only racing my family had done was horse racing.  I guess I wanted more than just one horsepower!” 

Alex distinctly remembers his “Aha!” moment – the moment he knew that racing was for him.  “My first quarter midget race. We hauled out to Arizona for a race at a little track, but back then we had no idea what we were doing. We loaded the car in the back of our suburban with the rear seat and two-thirds of the middle seat pulled out along with a few small tools and one set of tires, the ones on the car, and headed out to try this racing thing. No trailer, spare parts – nothing. We showed up and everyone immediately gave us that ‘well here's a rolling road block for us to pass’ look. I went out and finished third in my heat and won the main. With that I knew I loved racing, and here we are today!” 

Photo Credit: Alex Kennedy
If you follow the Nationwide Series, you’ve probably heard Alex’s name before – at Road America, Watkins Glen, and most recently, Montreal.  As you can see from the tracks he’s raced at this year for R3 Motorsports, the 19-year-old from Aztec, New Mexico, races the road courses.  “Well when I got into Legends cars, we figured out that the car control and amount of experience gained in one weekend of road course racing was almost equal to an entire season of ovals. We did what we believed was the best bang for our buck. I love ovals, but I've been labeled a Road Course Specialist, and it bothers me at some points. I'm really good on both, just shows better on a road course. You can beat a car with more horsepower on a road course by being a better driver in the corners, that's harder to do on an oval.”  When Alex doesn’t race in the Nationwide Series, he occasionally races at a local asphalt modified track, but “all of our focus and funds have to be put towards the Nationwide Series.”

I asked if he had a favorite Nationwide driver to race against, and said he didn’t; “Since I’m only able to run a limited schedule, I don’t get to see these guys every weekend, but all of them have their own character on the track and it’s fun to see that.  All of these guys wouldn’t be here if they didn’t deserve to be, so you are able to trust them a little more and run hard and close to them, making it a fun race.”  He did tell me about the level of competition in the Nationwide Series, “The closeness of competition is insane.  Two tenths of a second is the difference between the top fifteen at a lot of tracks.” 

Photo Credit: Alex Kennedy
The last question I asked was one I always ask: Do you have a driver that you emulate your career after? “Well, I’m attempting to emulate Mark Martin.  He is a class act driver who keeps a level head no matter what, and everyone loves him.  He keeps cool on the track, but isn’t a push-over.  If you rub him wrong, he will do it back, but then that’s usually it.  He won’t go and destroy another race car just because someone rubbed him the wrong way on the track.”  It seems to me that many young, up-and-coming drivers emulate Mark Martin for these reasons.  He’s definitely a great role model and a perfect example of what goals and perseverance can do for your career!

I just wanted to say thank you to Alex for taking the time to answer these questions, and us here at The NASCAR Corner wish you the best of luck in your future racing endeavors!

To contact Alex, check out his Facebook fan page: click here and check out his website: click here

No comments:

Post a Comment