Jon McKennedy will be focusing less on turning wrenches and more on his time behind the wheel of a race car during the 2015 racing season. The Chelmsford, Massachusetts native received a pair of phone calls and worked out two deals during the offseason that will find him in two new rides driving for respected car owners during the upcoming season.
McKennedy, the 2014 International Super Modified Association (ISMA) runner-up in the championship standings, will be making the move from the Paul Dunigan-owned team he drove for last season to the Clyde Booth-owned No. 61 team.
Booth is one of, if not the most successful current car owners in the ISMA garage area. His team has won many events and championships including the 2013 ISMA championship with driver Lou Cicconi. In addition to having great equipment underneath him, McKennedy is glad that he’ll be able to focus more on driving the winged Supermodified and less on having to prepare the cars for competition.
“It’s something I’m definitely looking forward to,” McKennedy recently told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “He’s a smart guy and he’s been involved in racing forever. For a handful of years, he was tied in with all of the NASCAR teams and running some of their shops. He’s a real smart guy and I’m looking forward to it. I think there’s a lot I can learn from him and I think it’s going to be a good combination.
“It will give me a little bit more of a chance to focus on driving the car this year. With Paul’s stuff, I did a lot of the setups and that stuff at well. At times it was kind of overwhelming. This year it will give me a little bit more of a chance to focus on the driving and let Clyde do his thing.”
Over the course of the past three seasons, McKennedy has recorded six wins in ISMA Super Modified competition including a win in the prestigious Star Classic. Despite the success he experienced with Dunigan, the 28-year-old felt that it was time for a change.
“Clyde offered me a good deal and I think it was time to make a change,” said McKennedy. “Big picture it’s just a good deal for me. I’m looking forward to what he has to offer as far as knowledge and getting to drive his cars.”
McKennedy makes the change after coming up just short of winning the ISMA championship in 2014. He entered the final event of the season at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (CT) with a sizable lead over eventual champion Ben Seitz, but a blown motor sidelined him with 10 laps remaining and ultimately cost him the championship.
Although he isn’t ready to say that what happened last year makes him more hungry, he did admit the way the 2014 ISMA season ended was a disappointment.
“Ever year no matter what I drive I try to give it the best that I can,” McKennedy stated. “Last year was definitely a disappointment. Up until 10 laps to go we were in position to be the ISMA champion. It was still a good year, though. We ended up winning the Tri-Track (Open Modified Series) championship and ended up second in ISMA. It would have been nice to win two championships in the same year but it wasn’t meant to be and this year we’ll give it our all. If the cards fall right, hopefully we can come out on top.”
McKennedy will once again be chasing the Tri-Track Open Modified Series championship in 2015, but he won’t be doing it in his own equipment like he did one year ago. Like with his Supermodified efforts, he will be joining forces with another car owner to make his bid at a title.
The former Valenti Modified Racing Series champion will be pairing with Northeast Modified veteran Todd Ceravolo to drive his No. 16 in the four open events at Lee USA Speedway (NH), Seekonk Speedway (MA), Monadnock Speedway (NH) and the New London-Waterford Speedbowl (CT).
The move is one that will also allow McKennedy to also make a few starts on the tough NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
“I can run his car on the Tri-Track Series and save my car for some other NASCAR races I plan on running,” he said. “I’d like to do more of the NASCAR events with the Modified Tour, but it’s a tough series to do without the sponsors. As of now, it looks like we’ll be doing four races with that. Between the Tri-Track Series and ISMA, that will keep me pretty busy.”
While McKennedy will be staying busy behind the wheel, he says that he is going to enjoy not having to do as much of the work off of the track as he has in years past. Having the opportunity to race for two teams with great equipment has him excited for what’s to come in 2015.
“The last few months I’ve just had some really good offers from some good people with good equipment. Why not take the opportunity and race somebody else’s car with good equipment?”
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com