No place like home for Kennington

JIM CRESSMAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:56 AM ET

DELAWARE -- D.J. Kennington has raced at some of the top stock car tracks in North America, including the granddaddy of 'em all, Daytona International Speedway.

But he says none compare with the opportunity to "come home" to Delaware Speedway.

Kennington can say it's "home sweet home" after winning the inaugural NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Delaware 200 on Saturday night in front of 6,000 spectators.

Even though the 31-year-old from St. Thomas has competed at Delaware since he turned 16 and won his share of Friday night features, he'd yet to win a major touring series event on the half-mile.

"I'd never closed the deal here. It's just awesome to be back here and to win," said an emotional and exhausted Kennington. "I've raced Daytona and a lot of other great tracks (in the NASCAR Nationwide Series), but it's just so good to be home,"

"It is home, it is where I started everything and to be able to go from here to racing in the Nationwide Series . . . it's come full circle for me and I'm just a lucky guy. I really am."

The fans got their $39 worth as the race went an extra 21 laps and had three tries at a green-white-checkered finish.

Kennington took the lead on lap 146 and then battled Don Thomson Jr. of Ayr on the first two attempts to end under green.

The first time, Thomson jumped the restart and NASCAR officials brought out the yellow and ordered another. On the second, Thomson may have jumped just a little early to get the lead. Going into turn 2, Kennington tapped and spun him, which brought about a huge cheer.

After no penalty to Kennington, the third restart saw him and Ron Beauchamp Jr. of Windsor on the front row but this time Kennington wasn't to be denied, beating Beauchamp to the stripe by .516 seconds for his first series win since 2007.

"Donnie tried to close the door and I'll admit I got into him," Kennington said. "I was trying to move him up (the track), but I didn't try to turn him. I feel bad because he and I are good friends.

"I don't like to race that way but that's hard racing. It's a tough race, it's a tough track and you've got to fight for every inch. I'm sure we'll race hard again."

The NCATS uses the double-file restart instituted yesterday by NASCAR Sprint Cup. The Nationwide and Camping World trucks will also use it as it's designed to provide excitement -- which it did Saturday.

"I got a good restart that last crack there and my spotter said I was clear, so I went down and the 17 car (Kennington) rooted me in the butt and sent me flying," Thomson said.

"I am surprised he did it. I'm sure he wanted to win really bad. My disappointment is more with D.J. than it is with NASCAR. NASCAR wasn't driving his car. I beat him to the corner and . . . he decided to turn me the very first chance he got."

This was the first time the NCATS was at Delaware, which broke ties with CASCAR after the 2005 season and saw no Super Series races in 2006. NASCAR bought CASCAR in 2007 and the Canadian Tire Series was born.

Kennington said it was one of the largest crowds the series has drawn at an oval track.

"It was a good show. I wish we could come here two or three times. (Track promoter) Arlen Scherba has done a good job fixing this place and when they do the repaving (of the surface in the fall), it's going to be one fast race track."

Thomson won five CASCAR Super Series championships.

"It was great to come back to Delaware and see a lot of people I haven't seen in years," he said. "The autograph session was crazy. Hopefully we'll be back more and more."


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