Steve O’Donnell and Ben Kennedy have been elevated to new roles within NASCAR. In a press release on Thursday, it was announced that effective immediately, O’Donnell has been promoted to chief operating officer of NASCAR while Kennedy is the new senior vice president of racing development and strategy.
NASCAR president Steve Phelps says the promotions are due to the work ethic and experience shown by each O’Donnell and Kennedy.
“With more than 25 years of NASCAR experience across a variety of disciplines, Steve O’Donnell has earned the respect of the entire industry, and his collaborative leadership in the competition space has positioned the sport for incredible growth for years to come,” said Phelps in a press release. “In a short time, Ben Kennedy has proven to be an innovative, thoughtful leader with bold ideas and a tireless work ethic. He returns to his competition roots with this new role, one in which he will no doubt excel.”
O’Donnell, in his new role, will continue providing oversight of all NASCAR Competition and Racing Operations, but now he will include Track Operations and Strategic Development to his list of duties. O’Donnell feels NASCAR is on the verge of exploding in popularity.
“NASCAR is in a prime position for growth, and I look forward to helping our talented team continue the work necessary to build our sport,” O’Donnell said. “I am deeply passionate about NASCAR, its fans and those who work in our industry. Together, we will continue the unprecedented collaboration to ensure our sport’s success.”
Since 2014, O’Donnell has served as the Chief Racing Development Officer. In the time since taking on that role, O’Donnell has been at the charge of several new initiatives in NASCAR including the implementation of the current Playoff format as well as the Stage Racing format that the NASCAR National Series utilizes to this day, but O’Donnell also had a key role with the Next Gen car, as well.
Kennedy, who has worked in the competition department at NASCAR in the past, most recently held the position of Senior Vice President, Strategy & Innovation. Kennedy has spearheaded the initiative to shake up and breathe life into the year-to-year NASCAR schedule and he was the mastermind behind the Busch Light Clash at the LA Memorial Coliseum.
In addition to his new duties, Kennedy will still oversee NASCAR’s schedule development.
Kennedy is simply excited to help push the sport, that his family founded, further.
“I am excited to return to the Competition team and continue to learn from some of the most innovative leaders across our sport,” Kennedy said. “The racing this season with the Next Gen car is some of the best we’ve ever seen. It is truly an exciting time in NASCAR, and I look forward to helping this talented team grow our sport.”
Kennedy, of course, is a former race car driver in his own right. Kennedy is a race winner in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, he competed in 17 NASCAR Xfinity Series events and he also scored two wins in the NASCAR K&N Pro East Series as well.