Closing time for Kennington
The 2012 season has belonged to D.J. Kennington and now it’s time for him to close it out. The scenario for Kennington to claim his second NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 championship in three years is simple and straightforward. Assuming a full 26-car field in the season finale on Saturday, Sept. 22 in the Pinty’s 250 presented by Dodge at Kawartha Speedway near Peterborough, Ont., Kennington has to finish 19th or better should second-place J.R. Fitzpatrick win the race and lead the most laps.
That would give each driver the same point total, but Kennington gets the tiebreaker by virtue of his six victories this season. Andrew Ranger and defending series champion Scott Steckly have been mathematically eliminated from the title hunt. Ranger, like Fitzpatrick, could end up with the same point total as Kennington should Ranger win the race and lead the most laps with Kennington finishing last, but, again, the tiebreaker advantage goes to Kennington.
Kennington’s only finish outside of the top five all season was a 21st-place showing on Sept. 8 at Barrie (Ont.) Speedway when his race was undone by a fuel pump problem.
“The Barrie thing was nobody’s fault. We couldn’t see that coming, but it’s crunch time now and we’ll see to everything we can,” said the driver of the No. 17 Castrol Edge/Mahindra Tractors Dodge.
The St. Thomas, Ont.-based driver is coming off his sixth victory of the season having won at Riverside International Speedway in Antigonish, N.S., on Sept. 15. With that triumph, Kennington tied the single-season series mark established by Ranger in 2009. He’ll have a chance to take sole possession of that record with a win at Kawartha, where he claimed victory in 2009 and 2011.
“It’s been a phenomenal year. I’ve got the best race team out there and they’ve worked tirelessly to make this a possibility,” said Kennington. “We’ve got one race to go, though, and nothing is clinched yet.”
Kennington is not one to count his chickens before they’ve hatched having been a three-time runner-up in the final Canadian Tire Series standings and coming up just a little short on more than one occasion in the former CASCAR series.
“There are just so many things that can go wrong with mechanical equipment and out on the track,” he stated. “We’ll take care of everything we can, but then it’s up to fate which I don’t really like. That’s racing, though.”
Kennington won five races in his first championship season in 2010 and this season has followed a similar tack. Dominance on the ovals and holding serve on the road courses has been the recipe for success. This season he has victories in five of the six oval-track events and a road-course win at Edmonton, Alta.
Earlier in the year he equaled a mark held by the likes of NASCAR Hall of Famer Richie Evans, multi-time NASCAR champions Herschel McGriff and Mike Stefanik and longtime NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competitor Ricky Craven by winning five consecutive NASCAR touring series events.
“That’s a great honor to be mentioned with those names, but I’m not sure how much it will mean if we don’t go out and win this championship,” Kennington explained. “So, I guess we’ll just have to go out and do it.”
- RACE: Pinty’s 250 presented by Dodge
- PLACE: Kawartha Speedway, Fraserville, Ont.
- DATE: Saturday, Sept. 22
- TIME: 5 p.m. ET
- TV SCHEDULE: TSN, Sat., Oct. 6, 4:30 p.m. ET; RDS2, Wed., Oct. 24, 9:30 p.m. ET
- RADIO SCHEDULE: NASCAR Home Tracks Radio internet audio stream, Sat., Sept. 22 at 4:25 p.m. ET, at NASCARHomeTracks.com.
- TRACK LAYOUT: .375-mile paved oval
- 2011 WINNER: D.J. Kennington
- 2011 POLESITTER: Steve Mathews
- EVENT SCHEDULE: Practice 11-11:30 a.m., Noon-12:30 p.m.; Qualifying 3 p.m.; Autograph Session 3:45 p.m.; Pre-Race Ceremonies 4:25 p.m.
- TWITTER: @KDSpeedway
- EVENT TWITTER HASHTAG: #Pinty250
The Race: This is the 12th and final event of the 2012 season for the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 and the seventh of seven oval-track events on the schedule. This is the series’ sixth visit to Kawartha.
The Procedure: The starting field is 26 cars, including provisionals. The first 23 cars will qualify through two-lap time trials while the remaining three spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 250 laps covering 93.75 miles.
The Track: Kawartha Speedway is part of the Kawartha Downs and Speedway complex in Fraserville, Ontario, near Peterborough, east of Toronto. The .375-mile banked asphalt oval speedway with progressive banking is surrounded by a harness-racing horse track, the opposite of Dover (Del.) International Speedway.
The Records: The one-lap qualifying record for the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series at Kawartha is 17.704 seconds (76.254 mph), set by Mark Dilley on Sept. 23, 2007. The 250-lap race record is held by Pete Shepherd III at 1 hour, 49 minutes, 7 seconds set on Sept. 25, 2010 for an average speed of 51.550 mph.
KAWARTHA RACE NOTES
Mad Max: Two-time Rolex 24 at Daytona winner and former Grand American Road Racing Association champion Max Papis will make his NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 debut in the Pinty’s 250 presented by Dodge. Earlier this season in Montreal NASCAR Nationwide Series regulars Austin Dillon and Timmy Hill made their Canadian series debuts. The Italian-born Papis has 35 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts to go along with 44 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and 11 NASCAR Nationwide Series starts. He also has competed in the IZOD IndyCar Series and Formula One.
Dodge Dominance: A Dodge has won the previous five Kawartha events, but D.J. Kennington (2009 and 2011) is the only repeat winner at the Ontario oval. Jason Hathaway (2008), Pete Shepherd III (2010) and Scott Steckly (2007) are the other Dodge drivers to visit Victory Lane at Kawartha.
Overtime: The TSN & RDS2 telecasts of the season finale at Kawartha will be 90 minutes in duration as opposed to the normal 60-minute shows. The TSN premiere of the Pinty’s 250 presented by Dodge will be on Saturday, Oct. 6 at 4:30 p.m. ET while that of RDS2 will be on Wednesday, Oct. 24 at 9:30 p.m. ET. There will also be a season recap show that will be telecast by TSN on Saturday, Nov. 17 at 3 p.m. ET.
LAST TIME OUT: ANTIGONISH
First To Repeat: With his win in the Wilson Equipment 300 D.J. Kennington became the first repeat winner in the six Canadian Tire Series races at Riverside International Speedway in Antigonish, N.S. He also won the 2010 event en route to the series championship.
Another Second: J.R. Fitzpatrick led 101 laps in the Wilson Equipment 300 but succumbed to the dominance of Kennington to finish second. It was Fitzpatrick’s third runner-up finish in five starts at the Nova Scotia track.
String ‘Em Up: Noel Dowler, after establishing a career best with a third-place finish on Sept. 8 at Barrie (Ont.) Speedway, finished ninth at Riverside for back-to-back top 10s. He reeled off three consecutive top-10 finishes earlier in the season.
Finish Strong: Ron Beauchamp Jr. has a history of strong finishes to the season in the Canadian Tire Series. At Riverside he logged his first top five of the season with a fifth-place effort and now has six top 10s in his last seven starts overall. It was his first top five since a fourth in July 2011 at Motoplex Speedway in Vernon, B.C.
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