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Publication: NASCAR News
Teen driving in Camping World East Series

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          NASCAR NEWS - Thursday, July 24, 2008
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Kennedy providing family, community intro to racing
Future Star: Teen driving in Camping World East Series
By Raygan Swan, NASCAR.COM

In the quaint town of Aztec, N.M., population 6,000, the 
racing culture among the youth is virtually non-existent; 
most of the kids hang at the town's sprawling skate park 
or cruise the mall. 

However, teenager Alex Kennedy is bucking that trend by 
exposing his Southwest suburb to the excitement of NASCAR.

"Most of the kids here have no idea what I do," said 
Kennedy, a 16-year-old up-and-comer signed to drive a 
partial schedule for Spraker Racing Enterprises in NASCAR's 
Camping World East Series this season. "They didn't know 
until a front-page article on our sports page came out 
about me. Then they were all freaking out." 

Now he's somewhat of a hometown celebrity as word about 
the Aztec native's talent behind the wheel is spreading. 
Soon he hopes to blaze a trail to NASCAR's big leagues, 
a goal he's pursued since age 5 when he started racing 
BMX bikes at a local park. 

His father Terry Kennedy was a stick-and-ball kind of guy 
with modest means. He wasn't sure how to help his son forge 
a career in racing beyond buying a go-kart to motor around 
the backyard. 

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"I just wanted to find something I could put him in with a 
cage and a seat belt," Terry Kennedy said. "He accommodated 
me by playing baseball for a while, but I knew he wanted 
to race so I got on the Web and found Quarter Midgets."

From there, his son's progression, dictated by age and 
ability, was that of most young racers, although it 
required thousands of miles on the family car. Racing 
venues to springboard young Alex's career were states 
away. 

But his father was willing to make the trips to Arizona 
and California and cities like Dallas and Las Vegas, where 
opportunities to compete were more available. 

His father funded Bandolero and Legends car rides to go 
racing at Texas Motor Speedway along with other regional 
tracks where, on limited resources, Alex won championships 
as well as broke track records. 

In 2006 and 2007, he was ready to go Late Model racing.

But it was here, at 14, where his ability and competition 
level began to exceed what his father could manage.

Terry Kennedy arranged for a Late Model test with Jeff 
Spraker, owner of Spraker Racing Enterprises, at South 
Boston Speedway in Virginia. Spraker was impressed with 
what he saw and enlisted Alex Kennedy into his driver 
development program. 

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"Alex is the real deal," Spraker said. "We have tested him 
twice, and he has a natural ability behind the wheel. He 
has tremendous potential, and we are pleased to have him 
join our organization." 

Terry Kennedy admitted he had to "get out of the way" and 
let more qualified people steer his son's career.

"I pretty much handed the keys to the kid to Jeff and 
said, 'Take him as fast and as far as you can take him,'" 
the father recalled.

The feeling was overwhelming for the 45-year-old computer 
specialist who, instead of trying to understand car setups, 
has focused his attention on safety aspects for his son. 

"I'm not a driver, so I can't begin to understand what he 
does," Terry Kennedy said. "I give him knuckles and walk a 
way, but I'm sensitive to every piece of safety equipment 
on his car." 

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Meanwhile, Alex Kennedy is managing his transition from 
Late Models to the much more powerful and heavier machines 
in the Camping World Series.

He has shown he can run up front and qualify the cars well. 
And in his Camping World Series West debut for T.J. Clark, 
Kennedy finished 11th on the Infineon Raceway road course 
in June. 

"The car sputtered coming up the hill on that last lap and 
died coming off the last corner or I would have finished 
10th," Kennedy said. 

Now attracting national media attention, the folks around 
Aztec are starting to appreciate their developing NASCAR 
star, including his own family who until recently never 
followed the sport. 

"It's the funniest thing because I introduced my family 
to racing," Kennedy laughed. "Basically before I came 
along racing no one knew what it was. My grandpa now 
knows the top 10 in Sprint Cup Series. He'll call me and 
talk to me about races and I'm like, 'Grandpa, is that 
you?'"

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END OF NASCAR NEWS 
Copyright 2008 by NextEra Media. All rights reserved.

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