Catching Up with Kenzie Ruston of Rev Racing

Kenzie Ruston has her sights set on a good finish to 2015. (Photo Courtesy of Rev Racing)

While it has been a somewhat trying season for 23-year-old Kenzie Ruston, the Rev Racing driver has kept her head up high with an optimistic look towards the immediate future.  In her first full-time campaign with the team and her third overall in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East division, this El Reno, OK native has the makings to be a lasting superstar in stock car racing.

Candid, determined, and savvy, Ruston expressed confidence in her No. 4 Rev Racing Toyota Camry team when I caught up with her last Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.  Relaxed and ready to talk about racing, she smiled when talking about the potential for her team as well as about her teammates, particularly Jay Beasley.  Like any great athlete, Ruston knows when to have her game face on while enjoying each moment with her racing career.

Make no mistake – Ruston absolutely is committed to winning and getting strong, consistent finishes week in and out.  With three top-10 finishes after eight races, she is focused on capitalizing on the opportunities ahead in the final six races of 2015.

Needless to say, this isn’t a racer who’s merely happy to be here.  Rather, she’s got a competitive fire to succeed and showcase that she’s got what it takes to catalyze her No. 4 team with a win, podium finish, or a strong overall top-10 finish.

Prior to the start of the United Site Services 70 last Friday afternoon, I sat down with Ruston to talk about the season, the challenges that New Hampshire Motor Speedway presented, the diversity movement of NASCAR, and what she thought about immediately with a wide range of random topics.  In this interview, this was Kenzie Ruston, friend and colleague, not just racer and competitor, who shared her insights and perspective.

Much like her efforts on the track, Ruston came into the interview with a balanced approach.  By interview’s end, she smiled, laughed about some of the bad luck that her team’s endured, but most of all, she wasn’t too high or low about the season thus far.  Praising her team and expressing belief in them to turn her season around, she is a catalyst to her crew and a great asset to the Rev Racing team.

Let’s catch up with Kenzie Ruston right here on The Podium Finish and get her thoughts on the year thus far and her outlook for the road ahead on the racetrack!

Rob Tiongson :  What’s your take on the year so far?  Would you say that it’s been somewhat up and down and what are your hopes heading down the stretch this season?

Kenzie Ruston :  I’m hoping it turns around.  Like you’ve said, we’ve had an up and down season.  I feel like we were alright here at Loudon.  We didn’t qualify nearly as well as I wanted to but we’ve been fighting the balance of the car this weekend.  Hopefully we’ve made some good adjustments after qualifying and salvage a top-10.

RT :  Let’s talk about Loudon for a moment.  What is it about Loudon that challenges you but at the same time makes you enjoy racing here?

Kenzie means serious business when she's dropping the hammer in her car. (Photo Courtesy of Rev Racing)

Kenzie means serious business when she’s dropping the hammer in her car. (Photo Courtesy of Rev Racing)

KR :  I don’t know as one of my favorite tracks of all-time is Lucas Oil Raceway (IRP in its earlier years).  Loudon really reminds me of that place.  We don’t run up near the wall but it’s super flat with wide corners and long straightaways.  It’s not smaller but it really reminds me of this place.  Coming here, I’m always so positive, as I’m like, “It’s IRP, it’s IRP!”  But I’ve always been so tight here and I don’t know if it’s me.  I just haven’t quite figured this place out.

RT :  Who would you say that you work closely with at Rev Racing?

KR :  I feel like me and Jay Beasley talk a lot back and forth about how our cars are handling.  Jay and I are closest when it comes to talking about cars.  Definitely having teammates helps at times, compared to last year with not having a teammate.

RT :  One thing that I’ve always respected has been your ability to cope with about any situation, from last year racing solo and now the No. 4 team.  How great is it to have Rev Racing’s resources around you in terms of furthering your NASCAR career?

KR :  It’s awesome.  Having the NASCAR backing is pretty cool and to get chosen by the NASCAR people into the program is humbling as a part of this team.

RT :  I talked about this some with Ryan Blaney but I understand that you were a part of the NASCAR NEXT program.  What were some of the benefits of this program and has there been some added pressure with being an alum of this group?

KR :  I don’t think there’s any more added pressure but it was neat being in the program and doing the different things that you wouldn’t get to do on a regular basis like going to media day and media training.  It was a really cool program and I really loved being a part of it.

RT :  Talk to me about the progress of your No. 4 team.  What’s some of the things that you’re liking and what’s one thing that you feel you could improve on down the stretch?

Kenzie Ruston takes to Langley Speedway. (Photo Courtesy of Rev Racing)

Kenzie Ruston takes to Langley Speedway. (Photo Courtesy of Rev Racing)

KR :  I feel like our communication is getting better and better week in and week out.  That’s all we’ve got to strive for in having my crew chief and I understanding each other and getting our cars unloading a bit closer (to the leaders) off the trailer.  I feel like we’re there.  We finished tenth at Columbus the other weekend and I hope we can keep at it with top-10 finishes.”

RT :  What was your goal heading into the year and what would you say are your expectations for the rest of 2015?

KR :  Coming into this year, I really wanted to win a race.  With the way we’ve been running, I mean, if we can get a couple of top-five results, as I don’t know where we’re at points because I don’t really pay attention to that, and finish in the top-10 in points, that would be a win.

RT :  One of those upcoming races is I believe the road course at Virginia, I believe.

KR :  Yes.  Road course racing is a little crazy as I feel like it brings out the crazy in people.  It sure is fun and different.

RT :  I realize that this interview will be up after the race but it’s a seasonably warm day here at “The Magic Mile.”  What do you anticipate for track conditions during your race at Loudon?

KR :  I think it’s going to cool down a lot after 6.  It’s going to be a little slick but I feel like this is one of our biggest tracks with aerodynamics.  It’s going to be really hard to pass but I think it’ll put on some good racing.

RT :  You’re a part of a team that’s definitely worked on improving the diversity efforts in NASCAR.  Do you think more could be done so that more women and minorities can have the opportunities to be a part of this sport?

KR :  I feel like they’ve put a huge effort to bring diversity into NASCAR.  Maybe if they had another stepping stone, like a Truck program…they’re putting a lot of money into this program and the pit crew combine program.  They’re putting a lot of effort into it and we drivers need to prove that we belong there.

RT :  One thing I’ve been curious about to you is if you’ve had a recently funny moment on the track or with your teammates.

Kenzie Ruston is focused on the road ahead. (Photo Courtesy of Rev Racing)

Kenzie Ruston is focused on the road ahead. (Photo Courtesy of Rev Racing)

KR :  I feel like I’m always so serious at the race track and that there’s not so much funny going on, you know what I mean? (laughs)  I take this so seriously.  Jay is probably one of the silliest people I know so just being around him and some of the stuff he says is hilarious sometimes.

RT :  (laughs)  I could only imagine!  What are some examples of the funny things that he says or does?

KR :  Oh goodness. (laughs)  He said something the other day.  I can’t remember but let’s just say that he’s just a little blonde, you know what I mean? (laughs) If that makes sense…he’s definitely a character (laughter).

RT :  Free Association – don’t worry, Kenzie, it’ll be easy.  Tell me the first thing that comes to your mind with the following:

Oklahoma City Thunder.

KR :  Kevin Durant.

RT :  Loudon.

KR :  Lobster! (laughter)

RT :  Lobster?!

KR :  Like the one they give in Victory Lane! (chuckles)

RT :  Boston.

KR :  Red Sox…? (pauses)

RT :  Good answer! (laughs)  Perfect teammates.

KR :  Somebody that can communicate with me.

RT :  How my future looks in NASCAR in the next 5 years…

KR :  XFINTY!  I’m optimistic!

RT :  As we wrap up our latest interview, what message do you have to those getting into racing?

Kenzie poses for a picture with a young fan who won't forget her day at the race! (Photo Courtesy of Rev Racing)

Kenzie poses for a picture with a young fan who won’t forget her day at the race! (Photo Courtesy of Rev Racing)

KR :  Never give up on your dreams.  That’s what us as drivers fight for day in and day out.  If you have a dream, stick to it and never give up.

Author’s Notes :  Firstly, thanks to Rev Racing for assisting TPF with the interview at Loudon!  Our featured image for our article about Kenzie is from Rev Racing.  

I’d like to thank Kenzie for taking the time to catch up with me to talk racing.  Most importantly, I’d like to congratulate Kenzie and Daniel Hemric on their recent engagement!  On behalf of TPF, we wish nothing but the best of times ahead for Kenzie and Daniel and personally, cheers to you both for what will be a happy, prosperous life ahead together!

Rob Tiongson

30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field, and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught my eye. From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by me or by one of my talented columnists who absolutely have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. I enjoy editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography.

Graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. Proud to be from Massachusetts, just as happy to be a Texan.

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