Before the opening race of the 2010 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series in Delaware, ON on Saturday, DJ Kennington talked about having a terrific opportunity to win the national championship. He followed up with a win on his home track to start the year with the points lead.
Kennington, from nearby St. Thomas, started on the pole and led 130 of the 201 laps to claim the Keystone Light 200 at the half mile oval. He took the lead for the final time with 40 laps to go and held the lead through a green-white-checkered finish that extended the race by one lap.
“It feels awesome to start the season off,” said Kennington, who also won here last year. “The last four years we’ve started the season off in the hole and to get out of here with a win is just awesome. I just hope we can keep the momentum going.”
Kennington blew up his motor in practice earlier in the day and his team rolled up their sleeves in the afternoon to replace the powerplant before qualifying.
“For the day we had and the guys having to work hard and change the motor,” Kennington said. “We only got eight laps of practice and to come out here and do this is pretty awesome.”
Kennington has finished second or third in the standings in all three seasons that the series has been run under the NASCAR banner and said that he is focused on winning the championship this season.
“You’ve got to finish every race (to contend for the championship),” Kennington said. “So far, one is in the books and I just hope we can keep rolling.”
Kennington edged JR Fitzpatrick, who is in the series full time this season while also running in some Nationwide Series races for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s JR Motorsports.
“That was great – I can’t wait to watch that on TV,” said Fitzpatrick, who pushed hard for the win late in the race but had trouble getting past Kennington on a track that was getting slick with a light rain falling in the closing laps.
“I couldn't have tried any harder than that. I gave it everything I had.”
Jeff Lapcevich finished third while John Gaunt claimed fourth place and Pete Shepherd III rounded out the top five in his first race in the series since running four races in the 2008 season.
“It feels good,” said Shepherd, who won the rookie of the year award in the old CASCAR Super Series in 2004 before signing a development deal with Roush Racing. “They don’t put the yellow stripes back on you for nothing. If you’ve been out of the series for a while you need to get the experience.”
The series continues next Sunday on the road course at Mosport in Bowmanville, ON.
Photo: Aaron Bell