BRISTOL, Tenn. – Gaunt Brothers Racing is auctioning the hood from D.J. Kennington‘s car at Bristol in support of the Humboldt Broncos.
The hood honors the 16 people who lost their lives and the 13 who were injured on April 6 when a bus carrying members of the junior-A Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League team was struck by a semi-trailer as the team was on its way to a playoff game in Nipawin, Saskatchewan, Canada. Kennington is a native of St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada.
A veteran of 100 ARCA Racing Series races, the 66-year-old driver from Cartersville, Georgia, made just his third Cup Series start on Sunday and his first in the Daytona 500. The race was also his final start in any racing series.
A Vietnam war veteran, Thompson drove the No. 66 for Carl Long to a 22nd-place finish.
His previous two starts, in 1992 at Pocono and last year at Talladega, resulted in DNFs.
Thompson, who won the pole for the 2015 ARCA race at Daytona, failed to qualify for the Pepsi 400 at Daytona in 1993 and the 1994 Daytona 500.
Making his second start in the Daytona 500, the Canadian driver earned his career-best result in six Cup starts when he placed 24th.
It topped his 26th-place finish last November at Phoenix.
Thanks for all the support everyone! Sorry not a better result but it is what it is! @LordcoParts@CastrolCanada@GauntBrosRacing thanks for great effort ! It's a game of decisions and inches and you make the best guess sometimes it goes your way sometimes not!
Canadian driver D.J. Kennington will try to qualify for the Daytona 500 with Gaunt Brothers Racing for the second year in a row, the team announced Monday.
Kennington, a native of St. Thomas, Ontario, will drive the No. 96 Toyota sponsored by Lordco Auto Parts and Castrol.
The team, sponsor and driver combination made the 2017 edition of the race, making Kennington the first Canadian driver to compete in the Daytona 500 in 29 years.
Kennington started 28th and finished 36th following a multi-car crash at the start of Stage 2.
“Last year was an awesome experience for my sponsors, Lordco and Castrol, and me,” Kennington said in a press release. “We knew once it was over, we wanted to do it again. (Team owner) Marty (Gaunt) and everybody at GBR is pulling out all the stops for us this year. I’m looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of the Lordco/Castrol Toyota Camry and seeing the difference a year makes.”
The 40-year-old driver has five Cup starts with a best finish of 26th in last November’s race at Phoenix.
Gaunt Brothers Racing does not own a charter, meaning Kennington is not guaranteed a starting spot in the Feb. 18 Daytona 500.
One of the best elements of the Daytona 500 is how unexpected drivers – some may call them underdogs – can emerge to win the “Great American Race.”
Over the last half-century, several unexpected drivers went on to win the 500, including Pete Hamilton (1970), Geoffrey Bodine (1986), Derrike Cope (1990), Ernie Irvan (1991), Sterling Marlin (1994-95), Michael Waltrip (2001, 2003), Ward Burton (2002) and one of the biggest underdogs to ever win the race, Trevor Bayne (2011).
Heading into Sunday’s 59th edition of the Daytona 500, two drivers stand out as underdogs: Canadian driver D.J. Kennington and Corey LaJoie.
Kennington, 39, a native of St. Thomas, Ontario, will be making his second career NASCAR Cup start Sunday. His previous start was last fall at Phoenix (finished 35th).
The 25-year-old LaJoie, son of former Xfinity Series champ Randy LaJoie, will be making his third career start in the NASCAR Cup Series. His other two starts came in the fall of 2014 (41st at New Hampshire and 35th at Charlotte).
Kennington may be relatively new to the Cup series, but he’s a veteran of CASCAR, NASCAR’s Pinty’s Canadian Series (108 starts, eight wins), the Xfinity Series (50 starts) and the Camping World Truck Series (five starts).
Don’t be surprised if Kennington is a bit wide-eyed and awestruck heading into Sunday’s race.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Kennington, who is driving for Gaunt Brothers Racing. “I can’t explain it really. Coming off of four (of Thursday’s Duel), I wasn’t in the race. When we crossed the line, I was, so just an unbelievable feeling for us.”
Kennington’s achievement is made all the more outstanding given he wasn’t able to practice prior to Thursday’s Duels.
“Never being in one of these cars, never drafting out here before, it was a pretty big deal for me, a lot of learning, I tell you,” he said. “At the end we made it in. That’s huge for us.
“The hard part is over. We’re going to have some fun now.”
Kennington is not only racing for himself and his team, he’ll also be racing for his country.
“There’s only been eight of us Canadians that have made the 500, so that’s huge for us,” he said
As for LaJoie, he qualified for BK Racing even though he was involved in a late crash with Reed Sorenson in the first of Thursday’s two Can-Am Duel races.
“Every kid in a race car dreams of racing in a Daytona 500, and I get to do that on Sunday,” LaJoie said.
He gets to race against his idols in the sport’s biggest race.
“Man, you come here idolizing Jimmie (Johnson), Dale (Earnhardt) Jr., all of these guys,” LaJoie said. “I’m fans of all of these guys and I get to race all of them on Sunday. It’s amazing. The big man has got a plan. I’m excited to get up there and dice it up.
“It’s been a hard road and I’ve still got a long way to go, but it starts Sunday.”