Round and round he goes. The performance of D.J. Kennington on NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 oval tracks has been nothing short of amazing.
Since the series began in 2007 the driver of the No. 17 Castrol Edge/Mahindra Tractors Dodge out of St. Thomas, Ontario, has made 47 starts on circle tracks with a record of 16 wins, 35 top-five and 41 top-10 finishes. He also is the series' all-time leader in wins with 18 and when he is able to string the wins together special things happen. In his championship seasons of 2010 and 2012, he racked up 12 of those wins.
The history supports Kennington's assertion that he is an "oval track guy," but he does have a pair of road-course wins on his résumé with a victory at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, in 2011 and one at Edmonton, Alberta last season.
Kennington's career was defined by near championship misses in the CASCAR days and early on in the Canadian Tire Series. However, with two titles in the last three seasons, the story has changed.
The biggest noticeable difference over the past few years is the mechanical reliability of the car. His only bobble all of last season was a part failure at Barrie (Ont.) Speedway, but nothing could have been done to prevent it since the part was bad out of the box with no way to foresee the trouble. It was little nagging things that always seemed to bite Kennington at inopportune times.
"We spend a ton of time checking and re-checking everything," said Kennington. "We've had pretty good luck – knock on wood. Things happen to race cars all of the time, but it won't be because we missed something."
Last season, Kennington was practically unbeatable on the oval tracks by winning six of the seven dates on the schedule. Only the fuel pump problem at Barrie prevented an opportunity at the sweep. His seven wins was a single-season series record eclipsing the six victories by Andrew Ranger in 2009.
The first five of those triumphs came consecutively. The streak started on the Speedway at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in June and ran through a win in late July at Auto Clearing Motor Speedway in Saskatoon, Sask. The five-race win streak tied a then NASCAR touring series record among currently sanctioned series previously accomplished by NASCAR Hall of Famer Richie Evans (NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour), nine-time NASCAR champion Mike Stefanik (Whelen Modified Tour), legendary West Coast driver Herschel McGriff (NASCAR K&N Pro Series West) and longtime NASCAR national series competitor Ricky Craven (K&N Pro Series East). Ander Vilarino of the Euro-Racecar NASCAR Touring Series in Europe established a new mark by picking up his sixth straight win on June 9 at Brands Hatch in the United Kingdom.
It's a new year for Kennington and he knows that he is a marked man.
"Last year was last year. It was a great year, but it's in the past," Kennington said. "We have a standard of excellence we want to meet that measures up to the competition we expect from everyone else. We can only take care of ourselves and tend to our business. If we do that, then everything should take care of itself."
As of late, everything has taken care of itself.