EASLEY, S.C. – official release — Jonathan Moore/Getty Images North America photo — Kenzie Ruston came to Greenville Pickens Speedway for the Greenville 140 NASCAR K&N East Series raceSaturday night with high expectations. Ruston came into the event with one top-5 and two top-10 finishes in her three previous starts at the track.
This time around, Greenville Pickens Speedway would prove to be a more difficult challenge.
After starting twentieth Ruston fell a lap behind at the halfway mark of the race with an ill-handling Chevrolet but the Ben Kennedy Racing crew, led by Mike Fritts, corrected the handling during the mid-race pit stop. Ruston then rallied back to the lead lap for a top-15 finish as she overcame a spin in the final segment.
Ruston finished the Greenville 140 in twelfth place.
“It was disappointing,” Ruston said. “Greenville is normally a great track for me and we just missed it a bit. Practice was in the middle of the day, so it was really a guessing game for qualifying. It cooled down a lot, but we were still extremely loose in qualifying, and with the impound procedure, you can’t adjust until the race starts.”
Ruston advanced no higher than sixteenth in the first 70 laps. When the caution flag was displayed for the halfway break, Ruston was the second car one lap down and thus trapped a lap down.
“We had a game plan going into the race,” said crew chief Mike Fritts. “We knew what direction we needed to go with the car when we got a chance to adjust, it just had to be fine tuned with Kenzie’s feedback. The team did a great job getting all the changes done in such a short time, and Kenzie was able to rally back at the end.”
After the race resumed, Kenzie found herself spinning after contact with another competitor. Ruston pitted for light damage repair, and continued on. A caution with 16 laps to go allowed Ruston to get back on the lead lap as the recipient of the free pass.
Ruston would advance four positions in the closing eleven laps to finish the night in twelfth. She now finds herself eight in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East standings, 32 points out of fifth, with one race remaining in the season.