DJ DOES CANADA PROUD
DAYTONA BEACH, FL – For the first time in a long time, race fans in Canada had some ‘on-track’ Canadian content to cheer for in the Great American Race. Douglas James Kennington and the Gaunt Brothers Racing team were living the dream at the 59th running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday. Canadian race fans were living vicariously through them. “Making the race was huge,” says the St. Thomas, Ontario driver, “I’ve been watching this race on TV with my dad since I was a kid and to be a part of it was a dream come true for sure.” Although he was disappointed with his 36th place finish, Kennington and his team held their heads high after the race. “It was a great race car. Very proud of my team and what we accomplished. We set out last week to make the big race and we did it.” Kennington was the first Canadian to race the Daytona 500 since 1988.
Behind the wheel of his Lordco Auto Parts/Castrol Canada #96 Toyota, the two-time NASCAR Canada Pinty’s Series Champion ran a conservative race at first. “I was learning lots every lap out there. These ‘cup’ cars are so much different than the race cars I’ve driven in the past.” Starting 28th, Kennington ran near the back of the pack for the first 75 laps. “I know I put a lot of pressure on myself. I felt we had the whole country behind us. There came a time in the race where I was done sitting back.” Just past the halfway point, Kennington began his march to the front. He briefly found himself in the top 20. “My main goal was to not make any rookie mistakes that would cost other drivers a chance to finish the race.” Ironically it was mistakes by other drivers that cost Kennington a chance at a good finish in Daytona.
“I’ve run the crash through my mind a thousand times since Sunday,” sighs Kennington, “I pride myself at finishing races but what happened to me was just super speedway racing.” On lap 128 of the 200 lap race, Kennington was running 22nd when seven-time NASCAR Champion Jimmy Johnson (running 3rd) was tagged from behind causing a chain reaction crash that collected and damaged 16 cars. Kennington’s car was one of them as he slammed the back end of Johnson’s spinning race car. Kennington’s day was done as was Johnson’s, Clint Bowyer and Danica Patrick, just to name a few. “It’s too bad we didn’t get to finish the race.” The Gaunt Brothers Racing team has already announced they plan to run a limited 2017 season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. GBR has hinted at a return to Daytona on July 1st for the Coke Zero 400 and also two race dates at Talladega Super Speedway on May 7th and October 15th. These dates do not conflict with any Canadian race dates that Kennington is already scheduled to run in 2017.