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FRASERVILLE, Ont., Canada – D.J. Kennington won it all.
Kennington capped his 2012 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 championship with a victory Saturday in the final race of the season, the Pinty's 250 presented by Dodge, at Kawartha Speedway.
It is the second championship in three years for the 35-year-old St. Thomas, Ont., driver. And it was his record seventh win in 12 races on the season.
“It was just an amazing season,” said Kennington. “It was a lot of hard work and I really can’t thank the crew enough. They’re the best.”
Kennington took the lead from pole sitter J.R. Fitzpatrick on Lap 231 and led the rest of the way. He held off runner-up Andrew Ranger and third-place Fitzpatrick over a green-white-checkered finish that pushed the race to 255 laps.
“We raced with (Fitzpatrick) quite a bit this year and it was fun,” stated the newly crowned champion. “I told him before the race that I was going to see him later. I just didn’t think it was going to take that long.”
Fitzpatrick led a race-high 216 laps, losing the lead only on a cycle of pit stops and when Kennington overtook him for the race-winning pass.
|4||Pete Shepherd III|
Ranger closed out the season with hard-fought second in a season which his oval-racing program seemed to be off a touch.
I’m really happy to finish second. It was a tough race, but I had fun,” Ranger said. “We struggled with this car all season, so it was a good finish for us.”
For Fitzpatrick it was another race at the front of the field only to end with a bit of disappointment.
“We had a great car at the beginning and it went away at the end a bit,” he said. “We still need a little bit more for (Kennington). We’ll be ready for next year.”
Pete Shepherd III and Martin Roy rounded out the top five. Roy entered the weekend having already clinched the Rookie of the Year honors.
Scott Steckly finished sixth, followed by Mark Dilley, Jeff Lapcevich, Donald Chisholm and L.P. Dumoulin.
Kennington took the points lead early in the season on the strength of five-straight wins and finished it off with back-to-back victories. He ended 27 points ahead of Fitzpatrick and 35 over Ranger. Steckly and Ron Beauchamp Jr. were fourth and fifth, respectively.
“It’s a great honor to win this series and I have so many people to thank for making it possible,” Kennington said. “I feel pretty good now and will feel better later as it soaks in.”
With the championship, Kennington earned a locked-in spot to the UNOH Battle At The Beach next February on the .4-mile oval at Daytona International Speedway. The champions of NASCAR's three international series -- Canadian Tire Series, Mexico's Toyota Series, and Euro Racecar Series -- have a locked-in spot to one of the three races (K&N Pro Series, Whelen Modified Tour or Whelen All-American Series) they elect to enter.
Kennington will be honored for his title run along with NASCAR's other touring series champions on Saturday, Dec. 8 at the NASCAR Touring Series Awards at the Grand Ballroom of the Charlotte (N.C.) Convention Center at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
The Pinty’s 250 presented by Dodge will premiere on TSN at 4:30 p.m. ET on Sat. Oct. 6 and on RDS2 at 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 24 in a special 90-minute program on both networks to cover the championship festivities.
D.J. Kennington took the checkered flag Saturday at Kawartha Speedway. Matthew Murnaghan/NASCAR