Kennington wins race, NASCAR Canadian Tire Series title 0
Driver D.J. Kennington (17) in action during the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Pinty's 250 season finale race on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012 at Kawartha Speedway near Peterborough. (CLIFFORD SKARSTEDT/QMI AGENCY)
All D.J. Kennington had to do Saturday to claim his second NASCAR Canadian Tire Series championship was finish 24th in the Pinty's 250 at Kawartha Speedway.
Well he did much better than that, bringing home the No. 17 Castrol Edge Dodge in first place after spending most of the race following J.R. Fitzpatrick in the No. 84 Equipment Express Chevrolet until lap 231, when he took the lead after a late caution and stayed there.
Kennington came into the final race of the season with a lead of 23 points over Fitzpatrick and 30 points over Andrew Ranger in the No. 27 Dodge.
The Pinty's 250 was Kennington's record seventh win of the season, breaking the mark set by Ranger in 2009 . His five consecutive wins at Canadian Tire Speedway (Mosport), Delaware Speedway (London), Motoplex Speedway (Vernon, B.C.), City Centre Airport (Edmonton) and Riverside Speedway (Antigonish, N.S.) also set a record.
Fitzpatrick, who started on the pole, dominated the race until the last five laps holding off Ranger, Scott Steckly, in the No. 22 Canadian Tire Dodge and Kennington in a nose-to-tail battle for most of the race.
Kennington was emotional in Victory Lane, thanking his dad, Doug Kennington, for sacrificing so much to get him to the top of Canadian stock car racing.
"He's done so much for me and this team," Kennington said. "This whole No.17 Dodge team is family to me."
The St. Thomas, Ont., native said this second win was even more special than the first two seasons ago, especially with his wife Jaime pregnant with the couple's first child.
"Family is so important to me and to have Jaime here to celebrate the win with me makes it even more special," he said.
Ranger, of Roxton Pond, Que., who at one point in the race had fallen back to eighth place, finished a strong second with Fitzpatrick, of Cambridge, Ont., third.
Fitzpatrick said he knew it would be a tall order to overtake Kennington at the 3/8ths of a mile banked oval.
"D.J. would have had to go out real early in the race in order for me to have a chance at the championship," he said. "And we all know that the No. 17 team doesn't make those kind of mistakes that would have made that happen."
He said that in the final stint of the race his car began losing "just a tick" of speed going into the corners and that was all it took for Kennington to get by him.
"We finished second in the championship and had a great car," he said. "We will just have to regroup and come back next season to fight for the championship again."
Peter Shepherd III in the No. 7 Dodge and rookie of the year Martin Roy in the No. 90 Dodge rounded out the top five.
Former IndyCar star Max Papis lasted only two laps in the Steckly Racing prepared No. 24 Dodge before mechanical issues forced him into pit lane.
He was able to return to the action 36 laps down and finished 21st.
Lewis Hamilton will start on the pole Sunday in the Singapore Grand Prix after a qualifying lap of one minute 46.362 seconds. It was the third pole in the past four races for the McLaren Mercedes driver. Williams Renault driver Pastor Maldonado will start second after a lap of 1:46.804 with Sebastian Vettel third-fastest in the Red Bull Renault at 1:46.905. Hamilton's teammate Jenson Button (1:46.939) and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso (1:47.216) round out the top five ... Austin Dillon was the winner in the Nationwide Series Kentucky 300 at Kentucky Speedway in the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet with Sam Hornish Jr. second in the No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge and new points leader Elliott Sadler fifth in the No. 2 RCR Chevrolet. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who has the points lead, finished 17th.