With a sigh of relief, D.J. Kennington is ready jump into his comfort zone.
The 2012 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series season started off with a pair of road-course events, but the Clarington 200 at the Speedway at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park near Bowmanville, Ont., on June 16 opens a three-race stretch of competition on oval tracks - the EMCO 200 on June 23 at Delaware (Ont.) Speedway and the A&W Cruisin' The Dub 300 at Motoplex Speedway and Event Park in Vernon, B.C., on July 14 follow.
"It's not that I don't like I don't like road racing because I do. It's very challenging, but I'm just more comfortable on ovals," said the 2010 series champion.
Despite professing not to be a road racer Kennington, out of St. Thomas, Ont., produced a pair of top-five finishes to open the season including a third-place effort to start the year at the Road Course at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and a finish in fifth at Circuit ICAR in Mirabel, Que.
"It's a pretty decent start. I think we had a top-three car at ICAR, but we made a few mistakes," said the driver of the No. 17 Castrol Edge/Mahindra Tractors Dodge. "Third in the opener was solid. Anytime you can beat Andrew Ranger (fourth place) on a road course, that's a good day."
Sitting third in the championship point standings - seven behind leader J.R. Fitzpatrick - Kennington is ready to turn some laps on oval tracks. Of his 11 series-career wins, 10 have come on ovals, but he has yet to reach Victory Lane on the Speedway at CTMP. His best results at the track were third-place finishes in 2008 and 2009. Last year, he crossed the line in the fifth position.
"It's a tough track. None of the turns are alike. I'm not sure I've ever hit the same mark twice in a row," he noted. "I think I won a CASCAR race there in 2005, but for one reason or another we haven't gotten a NASCAR win there."
Kennington, sort of a Canadian version of Rick Hendrick or Jack Roush, prepares three cars out of his shop as both Noel Dowler and Jason White run Dodges out of the DJK Racing stable. But he doesn't feel that detracts from his own championship-caliber program.
"It's kind of a double-edged sword. Sometimes I wish we didn't have three cars to get ready, but sometimes it's good to turn your attention to something else," he said. "It's really a good way for us not to obsess on our own stuff."
The Clarington 200 winner will set the tone for the seven-race oval-track season perhaps making this race the most important one on the calendar and Kennington, owner of 45 top-five finishes in 65 series starts, almost assuredly will have some say in the matter.