Foxwoods 301: Home is where the race is for Ben LynchBy TOM HERZIG
Special for the Union Leader
July 19. 2018 1:59PM
LOUDON -- Derry native and Pinkerton Academy graduate Ben Lynch, 27, returns to the Granite State this week to help Leavine Family Racing and driver Kasey Kahne prepare for Sunday’s NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Foxwoods Resort Casino 301.
Lynch’s role as the race engineer for Kahne’s Procore Chevrolet Camaro No. 95 ride involves working closely with crew chief Jon Leonard on matters such as setups, pre-race preparation, component selections, practice strategies and historical data analysis.
“We’ll bring two cars and two motors to New Hampshire,” Lynch said. “By rule, the back-up car can’t have a motor in it. Teams are also not allowed to collect data on the track. You’re relying on past computer and simulation information and feedback from Kasey as you try to find speed and the right balance between grip on the track and good aerodynamics.”
Leavine Racing has an alliance with Richard Childress Racing (RCR), which fields entries for Austin Dillon and Ryan Newman.
“They supply us with technical information,” Lynch said. “Testing on your own is very expensive.”
“Kasey is a sprint car veteran,” Lynch noted. “I don’t think he ever raced on asphalt before getting into a Cup car. He has a specific feel he wants and we try to give it to him.”
Kahne recently finished fourth in the Coca-Cola No Sugar 400 at Daytona after starting 28th. This past weekend at Kentucky Speedway, he placed 25th and sits 27th in the point standings. He is an 18-time Cup Series winner. His most recent win came in the 2017 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He has 92-career top-five finishes and 175 top-10 finishes in 519-career Cup Series starts.
“We’ve got to execute better. That’s the focus,” Lynch said.
Lynch first caught the racing bug as a youngster after jumping into a go-kart at a county fair. He began pleading with his parents Mike and Connie for more and was soon racing karts at Sugar Hill Speedway alongside the likes of Jon McKennedy and Andy Seuss.
Racing season is a high-speed, high-travel marathon for Lynch as he nears completion of degrees in mechanical engineering and mathematics at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.
“My week starts at the shop on Tuesdays,” Lynch said. “On Thursdays we fly to the track and then fly home after the race Sunday night.”
Lynch’s NASCAR experience began with the short-lived Swan Racing Cup team. He later joined the recently disbanded Brad Keselowski Racing Camping World Truck Series team. He considers his part in Chase Briscoe’s 2017 season finale win at Homestead Speedway for BKR a career highlight.
“We knew things were going to come to an end and we’d had a lot of tough luck, so it was pretty satisfying to win that one,” Lynch said.
Lynch spent parts of three seasons commuting from North Carolina to race on the American Canadian Tour (ACT) and in 2013, he finished fifth overall in the standings. He has since competed, when his schedule has allowed, in the Oxford 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway in his own Super Late Model — with help from past Oxford 250 winner Joey Polewarczyk Jr., of Hudson, and his father Joe Sr.
He drove to a podium finish (third) in the 2015 Oxford 250 and had a top-10 finish in 2016. He has also raced on the “Magic Mile” in ACT Invitationals on Cup weekends.
“We have the Oxford 250 weekend off this year, so we’re absolutely going to make every effort to race there,” Lynch vowed. “I’ve had lots of nights in the shop with my Dad and I’m looking forward to some more.”