March 19, 2018
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Ryan Truex, 18, rolls to win in K&N Pro Series East race

The Associated Press

    LOUDON, N.H. — Ryan Truex, younger brother of Sprint Cup driver Martin Truex Jr., won the New England 125 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Friday night.

He started sixth but led most of the race.

The 18-year-old Truex became the youngest driver to win the series points championship a year ago.

He is leading the points again this season and added to his lead.

It was the first time he took the checkered flag this season. This was the series’ fifth race.

Kevin Swindell finished second and the Revolution Racing duo of Darrell Wallace Jr. and Ryan Gifford finished third and fourth, respectively.

Cherryfield’s Andy Santerre, four-time K&N Pro Series East points titlist, is the competition director for Revolution Racing which is part of the Drive for Diversity program.

The other two Revolution Racing drivers, Sergio Pena and Mackena Bell, finished 15th and 27th, respectively.

“Darrell’s car blew an engine on the first lap of practice so we had to change it and he had to start last [32nd] even though he qualified 12th,” said Santerre. “But he came up through the pack to finish third. He did a nice job.”

Santerre was also pleased with Gifford, who finished in the same spot he started the race. He matched his finish in last year’s race.

Wallace Jr., Pena and Bell were making their debuts at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

New crew chief for Kenseth

Maybe the baseball part of Roush Fenway racing is rubbing off on Jack Roush. He’s churning through crew chiefs for Matt Kenseth like they’re late inning relievers.

Jimmy Fennig is the latest to get the call from the bullpen to sit atop the pit box. Roush replaced Todd Parrott with Fennig on the No. 17 Ford this week, giving Kenseth his third crew chief this season.

Parrott has returned to the research and development department.

Kenseth has had four crew chiefs since Robbie Reiser moved into research and development role after the 2008 season finale.

Who’s warming up?

Roush, who owns four Sprint Cup teams, said a breakdown in communication and effectiveness led to the switch. Kenseth is seventh in the points standings, but has finished no better than 14th in the last three races after a fast start.

Another sore point came last week at Infineon Raceway when the No. 17 had trouble getting through inspection.

“We were a little slow in the garage area,” Roush said Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. “I don’t fault the guys for that, but the direction and the plan may not have been as well-defined or understood.

“The combination of the plan not working as well as it needed to with the team, and the strategies not working as well as they had in the first few races with Todd resulted in our making the decision that the team wasn’t where it needed to be.”

Kenseth says he hopes an opportunity to “mix things up” will push the team in the right direction.

“It does seem like I’m pretty hard on the crew chiefs lately, that’s for sure,” Kenseth said.

Parrott replaced Drew Blickensderfer after the season-opening Daytona 500. Kenseth won the Cup championship with Reiser in 2003. Reiser was offered the chance at returning to his previous role, but declined for numerous reasons.

“Robbie wants to do everything, so he didn’t want to leave his post at the office,” Kenseth said. “There’s a lot more going on and a lot more important things in Roush Fenway than just one team.”

Roush’s four teams are winless this season. Fennig, who a championship with Kurt Busch in 2004, is confident he can get the team back into Victory Lane.

“Maybe the direction I was heading in R&D will help turn things around,” he said.

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