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Originally published Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 12:55 PM

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Short-track racing readies for Daytona debut

Ben Kennedy made signs, cleaned garbage cans and worked on the sewage truck. He even parked cars at Daytona International Speedway.

AP Sports Writer

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. —

Ben Kennedy made signs, cleaned garbage cans and worked on the sewage truck. He even parked cars at Daytona International Speedway.

Kennedy did it all at the track - except race.

Now he makes his Daytona short-track debut this week when he races in the inaugural UNOH Battle At The Beach.

If Kennedy's name doesn't ring a bell, yet, his family just might seem familiar to NASCAR fans. He is the son of Daytona International Speedway CEO Lesa France Kennedy and the great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr.

"It really means a lot to my family," he said. "I've been around this track for 21 years. I've been to every Daytona 500. It'll be cool to actually be on the track. I know I've been around it so much, but I've never been on it with a race car."

The 21-year-old Kennedy has balanced his blossoming career with college. He's a junior at Florida and a sports management major. He said he's set to graduate in December.

Kennedy, who said a seat at the top of the Daytona grandstands is the best spot to watch a race, held all kinds of jobs with DIS. He has fond memories of watching races with his grandfather, Bill France Jr., who died in 2007.

"He had a different vision on everything and it was cool to sort of sit back and listen to him," he said.

He can tell a story of his own with a strong showing this week. The Speedway created a 0.4-mile oval on the backstretch area and races will be run Monday and Tuesday nights. This is the first time short-track racing will be run during Speedweeks.

Kyle Larson returns to race after a second-place finish in Saturday's ARCA race. Considered the top young star in the sport, Larson also will drive in the Daytona Nationwide Series race later this week.

"I haven't felt any pressure yet, but I can see how people would think I might feel pressure," he said.

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