DAYTONA BEACH — Ben Kennedy continues his climb through the NASCAR ranks, this time with a return to the competition arm of the racing organization.
A fourth-generation member of the NASCAR-founding France family, Kennedy’s new title is Senior Vice President, Racing Development & Strategy.
“I am excited to return to the competition team and continue to learn from some of the most innovative leaders across our sport,” the 30-year-old Daytona Beach native said.
Also announced Thursday was Steve O’Donnell’s promotion to Chief Operating Officer. It’s the latest in a long line of advancements for O’Donnell, who joined NASCAR in 1996 as a marketing rep.
While continuing to provide oversight to the competition division, O’Donnell will also now oversee all of the NASCAR-owned tracks (including Daytona International Speedway) — “Track Operations and Strategic Development” is the official assignment.
“NASCAR is in a prime position for growth, and I look forward to helping our talented team continue the work necessary to build our sport,” O’Donnell said through the corporate press release. “I am deeply passionate about NASCAR, its fans and those who work in our industry. Together, we will continue the unprecedented collaboration to ensure our sport’s success.”
Kennedy, son of Lesa France Kennedy, NASCAR’s executive vice chair, and great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., has been deeply involved in the sport’s recent reshuffling of the race schedule — he was largely credited for bringing about last month’s inaugural Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
According to Thursday’s news release, he’ll continue oversight of future scheduling, while expanding his duties to include racing operations, track services/transportation/officiating, industry relations and the NASCAR Touring & Weekly Series.
Kennedy entered NASCAR as a racer, competing in minor-league circuits before racing in national series — ARCA, NASCAR Trucks and NASCAR Xfinity. He turned in his fire suit for dress clothes in 2017, first as general manager of the Truck Series.
“In a short time, Ben Kennedy has proven to be an innovative, thoughtful leader with bold ideas and a tireless work ethic,” NASCAR president Steve Phelps said. “He returns to his competition roots with this new role, one in which he will no doubt excel.”