In February, Canadian stock car driver DJ Kennington – a two-time winner of the NASCAR Pinty’s Series race at Riverside International Speedway – will be behind the wheel of an all-Canadian effort attempting to make history in the world’s biggest stock car race; the Daytona 500.
The St. Thomas, Ontario resident is a two-time champion of Canada’s NASCAR series and has extensive experience competing in the sanctioning body’s US-based Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series.
Kennington’s long-time sponsor Castrol (Wakefield Canada) and British Columbia-based Lordco Auto Parts will co-sponsor Kennington’s ride in the 59th running of the sport’s most iconic event, which is scheduled for Sunday, February, 26.
Keeping with the all-Canadian theme, DJ’s Toyota Camry will be prepared by Gaunt Brothers Racing, whose principals got their start in the Ontario stock car scene.
Kennington took part in his first-ever Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (formerly Sprint Cup) race last fall in Phoenix and he’s looking forward to doing battle against the best stock car racers in the world at the 2.5-mile, high-banked Daytona superspeedway.
“As the Daytona 500 is called The Great American Race, our team will be considered the Great Canadian Invasion,” joked Kennington, while announcing the news. “While this will be my first outing in a Cup car at Daytona, I have a lot of experience racing and drafting there, so there shouldn’t be a big learning curve.”
The idea to enter the Daytona 500 started as a casual conversation between DJ and Marty Gaunt, of Gaunt Brothers Racing. It quickly developed into a plan to forge a strong alliance for the season-opening Daytona Cup race.
“I made my first Cup Series start in Phoenix last November,” continued DJ, “but I’ve had 55 combined starts in the Xfinity and Camping World Series. And all the while, I’ve been racing in Canada’s NASCAR series with sponsorship from Castrol.
“I’m definitely ready to take this on. I’m excited to be running the first race with Monster Energy as the series’ sponsor, and I love how the program came together with my partners Castrol, Lordco and the Gaunts.”
As mentioned, the co-sponsors for Kennington’s Cup entry are Canada’s distributor of Castrol lubricants; Wakefield Canada Inc., and Lordco Auto Parts; the BC-based auto parts retailer and wholesaler. Kennington’s Toyota will be dedicated to the memory of Lordco founder, the late Ed Coates, a truly proud Canadian and NASCAR fan who considered the Daytona 500 to be his favourite motorsport event.
Wakefield and Castrol are long-time supporters of Canadian racing and have sponsored DJ’s No. 17 on Canada’s NASCAR and CASCAR circuits for his entire career. For more than 20 years, the Castrol brand has been on Kennington’s vehicle every time his racecar has taken to the track.
Wakefield Canada’s Sponsorships & Promotions Marketing Manager Natalee Davis says it was an extremely easy decision for Wakefield to join the project.
“We’ve sponsored DJ since he was 16 and Lordco is one of our most important customers in Western Canada. It’s a wonderful opportunity and co-partnership.”
For Lordco, the Daytona 500 is always an important event. Since 1988, the company’s team has gathered to enjoy the race and share ideas; this will be the first time they will have their own entry to root for.
Completing the Canadian connection, DJ’s NASCAR Toyota will be fielded by Gaunt Brothers Racing. Team owner Marty Gaunt has earned a strong reputation in NASCAR circles having worked in leadership roles at Team Penske, Red Horse Racing and Red Bull Racing, and is currently President of Triad Racing Technologies.
“This team is all-set to do well at Daytona,” predicts Kennington. “There hasn’t been a Canadian driver at the event in ages and we’re ready to rock ‘n’ roll.”
With the combined Canadian commitment, they might just impress a lot of NASCAR fans on both sides of the border.