NASCAR: Kenzie Ruston on the rise after Iowa runner-up

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We meant to hit this last week, but it was worth taking note of Ben Kennedy Racing driver Kenzie Ruston at last week’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Iowa Speedway. Ruston finished second, a career-best result and highest finish for a woman in series history.

“I feel like we still had the best car there at the end.” she said during a Wednesday teleconference. “We were chasing Brandon Jones down as fast as we could, just kind of ran out of laps. I got a bad restart that last restart, spun my tires a little bit, and let Cole Custer and Ben get away from me, and I had to chase everybody back down. But I just can’t thank my guys for working their tails off this weekend and giving me a good car.”

Like most of the NASCAR community, Ruston is en route to Watkins Glen International this weekend, where K&N will race alongside the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide ranks. Ruston is yet to test on the track but still feels fortunate for the opportunity.

“I always loved the road course races last year, and it’s really cool that we get to go to one of the road courses that the Cup guys run on every year,” she said. “Last year we didn’t really go to road courses that the Cup guys raced on, so it didn’t really, I guess, transfer all the information, so it’s really cool that we get to go and experience some of that stuff that the Cup guys do, and I’m really excited to have Bully Hill Vineyards on the car this weekend. Just a really cool opportunity. I know they’ve been involved in racing for a long time, it’s just really cool for them to be back involved in the sport, and should be a really good weekend.”

Ruston expressed thanks to Kennedy for his support this season.

“I learned a lot from him last year even being in the NASCAR Next program becoming friends with him, and he’s just so welcoming,” she said. “Any time you go ask him a question, he’s the nicest guy to ask a question to and he always gives you an honest answer that you’re asking for. He’s definitely been a huge, huge stepping-stone in my career, especially in the K&N Pro Series.”

Keep an eye on her going forward, as one of the rising stars in NASCAR’s developmental ranks.

Here’s her livery this weekend:

Steve Torrence takes NHRA points lead with Gatornationals victory

NHRA Gainesville Steve Torrence
Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence took the points lead Sunday in the AMALIE Motor Oil Gatornationals, beating his father, Billy, in the final round at Gainesville Raceway.

Torrence had a 3.809-second run at 322.11 mph to win for the third time this year and 39th overall. He is now on track for another championship despite missing the season opener.

“We’ve got some good momentum and to be in the points lead, it’s a testament to how hard these guys work,” Steve Torrence said after the NHRA Gainesville victory. “We’ve just got to stay focused and concentrate on what the task at hand is, and that’s trying to win a championship. These guys give me an unbelievable race car and you just try not to screw it up.”

Ron Capps won in Funny Car, Alex Laughlin in Pro Stock and Matt Smith in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Capps raced to his second win this year and 66th overall, beating Tim Wilkerson with a 3.937 at 323.12 in a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.

Laughlin topped Aaron Stanfield with a 7.068 at 204.76 in a Chevrolet Camaro for his first win this season and fourth in his career. Smith rode to his first victory in 2020 and 25th overall, topping Andrew Hines with a 6.843 at 196.99 on an EBR.