Kenzie Ruston joins Ben Kennedy’s NASCAR team

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Emerging NASCAR talent Kenzie Ruston is pairing with another of NASCAR’s potential future stars, Ben Kennedy, at Kennedy’s K&N Pro Series East team in 2014.

Ruston, 22, a member of NASCAR’s “NASCAR Next” initiative for finding and discovering young drivers, made her debut in the series this past season with the Turner Scott Motorsports team. She finished sixth in the series championship with four top-five finishes, with a best finish of third place at Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway in April.

“Jumping into the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East last year was a great experience and I really learned a lot in my first year,” said Ruston, via NASCAR.com. “Having competed against Ben and his team, I’ve seen firsthand the dedication and level of excellence they bring to the track.”

Kennedy, 21, is moving into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series full-time in 2014 with TSM, but the Ruston signing allows the Ben Kennedy Racing squad to remain in its Daytona Beach shop and keep competing in K&N. Kennedy is the great grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr.

BREAKING: John Force taken to hospital after Phoenix eliminations crash

Photo courtesy NHRA
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16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force has been taken to a local hospital for evaluation and examination following a wicked crash with fellow Funny Car driver Johnnie Lindberg.

The crash occurred during the quarterfinals of Sunday’s final eliminations in the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix.

Force was headed for a win when the engine on his Peak Chevrolet Camaro blew up just as it crossed the finish line, destroying the body. Lindberg, meanwhile, lost traction about one-third of the way down-track, but then got back into the gas to try and catch Force.

Force appeared to lose control of the body-less car and went across from the left lane he was in to the right-hand lane, where he hit the retaining wall in front of Lindberg.

Lindberg tried to avoid Force, but couldn’t. To make matters worse, the body on Lindberg’s car then came off and Force’s and Lindberg’s cars got tangled up in Lindberg’s parachute, sending both chassis’ into the left retaining wall.

Lindberg emerged from his Funny Car under his own power and was checked at the medical center before heading back to his pit.

Force, meanwhile, was helped out of his mangled wreck by the NHRA Safety Safari and was transported by ambulance to the hospital due to the severity of the impact.

Even though Force will be credited with the round win, he obviously will not be able to continue for the remainder of the eliminations.

To add insult to injury, NHRA officials charged Force with oiling down the racetrack, his third of the season in just the first two races. That will cost him 15 points in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series standings and a fine of $4,000.

Here are several posts from social media, including video of the incident from NHRA:

This is the second time Force has had an engine explode and the body blew off in the last two weeks. He also wrecked during the qualifying Feb. 9 for the season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California. Here’s the video of that wreck:

MORE: John Force taken to hospital as a precaution after Funny Car motor explodes.

We’ll update Force’s condition when it becomes available.

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