September 24, 2017. DJ Kennington and the #17 Castrol Edge Dodge team blazed into Jukasa Speedway for the final round of the 2017 NASCAR Pinty’s Series on Saturday night. With a fast race car all day Kennington claimed the pole position in qualifying but was bumped out of contention for the victory in the 200-lap feature event.
Confidence was high with the #17 Castrol Edge Dodge team as they began the last race of the season. Kennington was quick throughout the practice session and set a new track record for the restored 5/8-mile track’s new configuration with a time of 18.578 seconds and a speed of 121.111 MPH. “The car was a rocket, I think there was still a little more speed in it” he said after the qualifying session.
As the 200-lap race began Kennington would hold the lead in the #17 Castrol Edge Dodge for the first 18 laps before surrendering the position. “The car was a little loose in the cooler conditions,” explained the driver “I didn’t push too hard because I knew we’d adjust during the pit stops and be able to get back up front”.
The #17 Castrol Edge Dodge crew performed flawless service for Kennington during scheduled stops, first for fuel and then changing right side tires. When a caution period came later in the race DJ made a final stop for fresh left side tires. When the race restarted he was back on the charge and headed for the front. “Everyone else took four tires at once and we saved our last stop for later” said Kennington.
In the closing stages of the race Kennington raced the #17 Castrol Edge Dodge towards the front. He moved into second place with 45 laps remaining and with 30 to go had his sights set on the leader. “I was closing the gap and I knew I could get there and with the fresher tires go for the win” said Kennington.
He would never get the chance. In the closing laps as Kennington was looking for the lead in the #17 Castrol Edge Dodge the #76 car punted him from behind and sent him spinning into the outside wall. The damage inflicted was significant enough that with only a handful of laps remaining repairs couldn’t be made in time to return. Their night was over, a shot at victory taken from them.
“That’s not how professionals race” said Kennington. “Our Castrol car was fast and handling great and we never got the chance to race for the win because we got taken out. I’m all for racing guys hard all day long but you don’t dump somebody that’s got a winning car” said an exasperated driver.
The result is doubly bitter, as this was the final race of the season for the #17 Castrol Edge Dodge team. “This is a lousy way to end the year,” said Kennington. “We were really good tonight, I’m so proud of all the guys. We had a few tough days this season but they all dug in and worked so hard every weekend I can’t thank them enough. And the amazing support we get from Castrol and all our partners, I’m really disappointed for them about how things went tonight. We’ll lick our wounds for a while with this one but it’ll motivate us too” he added.
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