JOLIET, Ill. -- Ben Kennedy had to wait around to conduct post-race interviews for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase field after an early exit Friday night at Chicagoland Speedway. As he did, he nursed a bandaged right hand that included a splint on his middle finger, the result of a heavy late-race crash that left him 26th on the results sheet.
Kennedy heads into next weekend's Chase opener at New Hampshire Motor Speedway hoping to heal up for the seven-race run to the championship. The 24-year-old driver said he hoped his bruised hand wouldn't pose a problem at the demanding 1.058-mile track.
"I hope not. Either way, I'm going to muscle through it," Kennedy said. "The biggest thing right now is rest and recovery and listening to the doctor's orders and I think we'll be fine next week. Make sure our safety stuff is ready to go, and I'm sure it will. We'll go out and hopefully be a contender in that race."
Kennedy was nudged into a spin after a tightly contested challenge from GMS Racing teammate Johnny Sauter just under 50 laps from the end Friday night. Kennedy's No. 33 Chevrolet was then clipped by the ThorSport trucks driven by Ben Rhodes and Matt Crafton before it nosed into the Turn 2 retaining wall.
Kennedy's hand was wrapped up after he emerged from the infield care center. He was scheduled for X-rays Saturday morning, but said he thought his injuries were no more serious than bruises or a sprain.
"Hopefully, it's not anything worse than that," Kennedy said. "I don't know. I hit the wall and it just hit something, the wheel or something. I tried to brace myself and just didn't have enough time to get it where I needed to, to be safe for when I hit the wall. So, just nicked it a little bit."
Kennedy clinched his postseason spot in August at Bristol Motor Speedway, and now starts with a clean slate for the opening three-race round of the series' inaugural Chase playoff. With a challenging early schedule that travels from New Hampshire to Las Vegas to Talladega, Kennedy said the approach may be equally intriguing.
"You've got to try to minimize mistakes, but sometimes you're other people's fortune at the end of the day," Kennedy said. "I think tonight was a little taste of what we're going to try to bring to the Chase. We're going to keep working on it, try to get better and we'll see what happens. Hopefully just stay out of trouble and win one of these things."