There’s always that question that is asked – where can I find out the next talented star? Who will be the next talented driver? NASCAR teams ask that same question when they’re signing developmental contracts and one team definately got it right.
This past off-season, Kenzie Ruston signed a developmental contract with Turner-Scott Motorsports. For this season, she will be running the full K&N Pro Series East schedule.
In just four starts so far this year, the Oklahoma native has already shown that she’s worthy of the opportunity, scoring a pair of top fives including a third at Greenville.
“They’re a lot different than what I came from,” she says of the cars. “I came from super late models which are light cars, big motors, lot of grip with the tires. The K&N Pro Series cars are a lot heavier cars.
“It’s been a learning curve, learning every week at the track, learning new stuff every lap.”
Ruston started running late models in 2010, competiting in the Pro All Star Racing Series (PASS) Southern Division, scoring multiple 10 finishes and finishing 12th in points despite missing two races. She would run some Champions Racing Association (CRA), becoming the first female to win a CRA event with her win at Lucas Oil Speedway. She ran the full ARCA/CRA Super Series championship schedule last year, finishing second in points.
She first caught the eyes of many in 2011 when she made four ARCA starts for Venturini Motorsports, scoring a pair of top 10s, including a fourth at Toledo Speedway after leading some laps.
The 21-year-old got her start at the age of 14 running bandoleros.
“I always wanted to race dirt bikes since I was little and my dad raced dirt bikes so I wanted to get on a dirt bike – but he wouldn’t let me, ” she says. “So we were at Texas Cup race and there was a little 5th mile track out there. Got in a bando – bandolero – and made some laps and it went from there.”
With making the move to the K&N Pro Series East, she didn’t set her goals high coming into the season.
“I was just hoping to log laps and get top 10s and earn respect,” she says. “As the year has gone on, my goals are just like gotten bigger. We definitely want to win a race this year, win rookie of the year, and be in contention at the end of the year for the points championship. That’d be awesome. Right now, learning and earning respect from other drivers.”
Ruston says that she wants to continue to move up the racing ladder, possibly running in the Nationwide Series or Sprint Cup Series five years down the road.
Crowned Speed51.com Most Popular Driver last year, it’s no secret that Ruston has many supporters already and a role model to other young females out there. To those wanting to follow in her steps, she says it’s the hardest thing that she’s ever had to do.
“It definately hard to being a girl,” she says. “You have to prove yourself way more than the boys have to prove themselves because they never think a girl can do it. You just have to go out there and work way harder than them and show that you’re here to win races and run up front. You want to be the best driver, not just the best girl driver; you want the same things they do.”
Outside of racing, she doesn’t have many interests as she is at the shop every day.
“I play a little bit of golf – but I’m not really good; it’s just a waste of time,” she comments. “I’m not very good at golf.
“In the winter time, I like to go up to the cabin with my family and we snowboard quite a bit in the winter time. But in the summer time, it’s mostly all racing.”