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Gaunt Brothers Racing to auction hood for Humboldt Broncos charity

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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.

On its Facebook page, Gaunt Brothers Racing stated that all proceeds from the auction will go to the Humboldt Broncos charity.

A GoFundMe page for the Humboldt Broncos has raised more than $11.6 million.

Kennington was 30th in the Food City 500 when the race was stopped after 204 laps on Sunday because of rain. The race is scheduled to resume at 1 p.m. ET.

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Overlooked stories from the Daytona 500

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The two defining stories coming out of the 60th Daytona 500 are Austin Dillon’s win and Darrell Wallace Jr.’s historic runner-up finish.

But there were 38 other drivers in the “Great American Race” with a few having career days at the 2.5-mile track.

Here’s a look at some of the overlooked stories of the race.

JTG-Daugherty Racing

The two-car team put both of its entries in the top 10 for the second year in a row.

A.J. Allmendinger brought his No. 47 Chevrolet home in 10th while Chris Buescher and his No. 37 Chevrolet finished fifth. It was Buescher’s seventh top 10 of his career.

Michael McDowell

In his first start with Front Row Motorsports, McDowell drove his No. 34 Ford to a ninth-place finish.

It is McDowell’s sixth top-10 finish in 250 Cup starts. It’s his second straight top 10 at Daytona after earning a career-best fourth-place finish last July.

It is FRM’s third top 10 at Daytona in 49 combined starts at the track.

Justin Marks

Though he didn’t finish on the lead lap, Marks still managed to earn the best finish of his four-race Cup career.

Driving the No. 51 for Rick Ware Racing and Premium Motorsports, Marks finished 12th. Previously he had finishes of 40th (Talladega, 2017) and 30th (Sonoma, 2013 and 2015).

Marks, 37, also led his first lap in Cup competition on Sunday.

Gray Gaulding

Driving BK Racing’s No. 23 Toyota, Gaulding made his first start in the Daytona 500 and finished 20th.

It capped off a week where Gaulding did not make a qualifying attempt for the race and BK Racing filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy the day of the qualifying duels.

Mark Thompson

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.

Thanks to wrecks, Thompson finished ahead of Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, William Byron, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski.

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.

D.J. Kennington

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.

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D.J. Kennington to attempt to qualify for Daytona 500 with Gaunt Brothers Racing

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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.

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Underdogs D.J. Kennington, Corey LaJoie have high hopes in Daytona 500

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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 will start Sunday’s race 28th, while LaJoie starts 31st, both drivers beginning ahead of Paul Menard, Erik Jones, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, Chris Buescher, A.J. Allmendinger, Brendan Gaughan and Elliott Sadler.

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.”

Corey LaJoie
Corey LaJoie

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.”

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Stenhouse leads train of 6 Fords in final Daytona NASCAR Cup practice

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Ricky Stenhouse Jr. led a Ford onslaught during Saturday’s final NASCAR Cup practice for Sunday’s 59th Daytona 500.

Stenhouse Jr. was the fastest of six Ford drivers that paced the 28-driver field with a top speed of 198.452 mph, nearly two mph faster than second-fastest Joey Logano (196.751 mph).

Logano’s Team Penske teammate, Brad Keselowski, was third-fastest (196.747), followed by three Stewart-Haas Racing teammates: Kevin Harvick (196.726), Kurt Busch (196.700) and Clint Bowyer (196.674).

The fastest Chevrolet driver was Elliott Sadler, seventh-fast at 196.584 mph. The fastest Toyota driver was Canadian driver D.J. Kennington, who was 25th-fastest at 192.814 mph.

In an interesting twist, no other Toyota drivers took part in the practice session at Daytona International Speedway.

Click here to see how the final practice played out.

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