Scott Zipadelli named crew chief for Ben Kennedy in Truck series

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After eight seasons as a crew chief in the Nationwide Series (now Xfinity Series), it’s time for Scott Zipadelli to do a little truckin’.

Zipadelli was named Friday as crew chief for Ben Kennedy and the No. 11 Red Horse Racing Toyota Tundra for the 2015 Camping World Truck Series.

While it will be the first go-round for Zipadelli in the Truck series, he’s eager to get started.

“Red Horse Racing is a well-respected organization that has had a lot of success in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and I am very excited to be a part of it,” Zipadelli said in a media release. “Ben (Kennedy) is a talented driver and I have high expectations for him and the No. 11 team.

“(Kennedy) had an outstanding rookie season, and our goal this year is to win races and put ourselves in position to contend for the 2015 championship.”

Kennedy, 22, won NCWTS Rookie of the Year honors in 2014 after a season that saw him earn one top-five and seven top-10 finishes. He also finished an impressive ninth in the season standings.

He signed last month with Red Horse Racing after competing for the now-defunct Turner Scott Motorsports partnership in 2014.

Kennedy is the great grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., and son of International Speedway Corp. president Lesa France Kennedy.

“Scott Zipadelli has great experience on top of the pit box and brings a lot to the program,” Kennedy said. “I am really looking forward to working with him and can’t wait to unload our No. 11 Toyota Tundra at Daytona in February.”

Zipadelli was crew chief for 253 Nationwide Series races from 2007 through 2014, earning three wins – including two last season with Kyle Larson.

He also earned 32 top-five and 86 top-10 finishes, plus two poles.

Zipadelli’s best season atop the pit box came in 2009, when late driver Jason Leffler finished ninth, as well as 2013, when driver Justin Allgaier finished fifth.

Scott is the younger brother of Greg Zipadelli, vice president of competition at Stewart-Haas Racing, and who served as crew chief for two of team co-owner Tony Stewart’s three Sprint Cup championships.

“We are very happy to have Scott Zipadelli join the Red Horse Racing family,” Red Horse owner Tom DeLoach said. “He is a great addition to our leadership here. I have set the bar high for this group in 2015, and expect great things.”

The first race of the 22-race Truck series schedule is the NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway on Friday, Feb. 20. 

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Robert Wickens in the Indy 500? Bryan Herta making plans to field a car for next year

Robert Wickens Indy 500
Brett Farmer/LAT Images/IMSA
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Bryan Herta wants to enter Robert Wickens in the Indy 500 as early as 2024 – a year longer than preferred as work continues on the hand controls needed for the paralyzed driver.

Wickens suffered a spinal cord injury in a crash at Pocono Raceway in his 2018 IndyCar rookie season. He’s worked as a driver coach for the Arrow McLaren IndyCar team since, but last year with Bryan Herta Autosport and Hyundai returned to racing in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.

The 33-year-old Canadian won a pair of races (including the season opener at Daytona) driving a Hyundai Elantra N-TCR that is fitted for Wickens to race strictly through hand controls. Herta said Thursday that perfecting that technology for an Indy car in the biggest race in the world has slowed the project he’s determined to do with Wickens.

‘I’M AS HUNGRY AS EVER’: Robert Wickens’ return to racing

“I’d love to take Robbie back to Indy because I know he could do that, and I think that would be a next step for him in his journey,” Herta told The Associated Press. “We’ve spent a lot of time looking at the logistical side of things, hand controls, and I think we have solutions for that.”

Herta said Honda has been supportive of the process, which Herta called “one of the most important things we’ve done in racing” last year.

“We actually looked at doing it this year, but the logistics of it, the timing, it just wasn’t enough,” Herta said. “That’s not something you can rush. There’s some things that we have to work very closely with IndyCar on, and things we just have to get right. It’s a process, but I can see a path to it.”

Wickens, when told his boss was openly discussing the Indy 500, grinned widely. Herta as a team owner won the Indianapolis 500 with Dan Wheldon and Alexander Rossi.

“That’d be fun,” he said of running the Indy 500.

But like Herta, Wickens said the effort has to be both done correctly and be competitive.

“We’d like to do it right. If we started right now, can we get a car ready for the open test in April? Probably,” Wickens told The AP. “But I don’t know where the systems would be and I want to get on proper simulators to make sure its correct.

“We all want to do a proper, professional effort,” he added. “I don’t want to do it for a marketing campaign. I want to do it for a chance to win.”

Wickens in 2021 did a demonstration in Canada that marketed advancements for paralyzed drivers and gave him a chance to again drive. His entire life had been upended 14 races into his rookie IndyCar season, just three months after winning top rookie honors at the Indianapolis 500.

Wickens has since married, returned to racing last year and welcomed the birth of his first child, an son named Wesley whom is infatuated with both race cars and the trip to Disney he took this week during the off days at Daytona International Speedway.

Wickens, who uses a wheelchair but can stand with some support, marks a full year back racing on Friday in the season-opening IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race. Despite success last season, Herta made changes to his lineups and Wickens this year will be teamed with Harry Gottsacker.