This past weekend former NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Champion DJ Kennington competed in both the NASCAR Nationwide and the K & N Pro Series West events at Phoenix International Raceway. Kennington piloted the #80 MacDonald Motorsport entry in the Nationwide series, and the #81 car from Bill McAnally Racing in the K & N event. Both cars featured sponsorship backing from Northern Provincial Pipelines, Whitemud Mechanical, Clark Construction and Mahindra Tractors. It was a long and hectic weekend of activity, but also a successful venture for everyone involved.
The first on track activity on the newly reconfigured and resurfaced track was Thursday afternoon with Nationwide Series practice. Friday was a full day of practice laps beginning with the K & N Pro Series. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I like racing at Phoenix and the Thursday session gave us some time to feel out the new trackÃ¢â‚¬Â said Kennington. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Friday we worked on set up for both cars to make them faster on the new trackÃ¢â‚¬Â he added.
Saturday featured back to back qualifying sessions, first in the K & N Series. Kennington posted a very solid lap time and would start the race 23rd. In the Nationwide event Kennington rolled off 34th at the start. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We were struggling a bit with the Nationwide carÃ¢â‚¬Â explained Kennington. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Our plan was to make adjustments during the raceÃ¢â‚¬Â he stated.
A crash on lap one of the Nationwide race sent the field scrambling and Kennington made it through unscathed. In the first few laps Kennington maneuvered his #80 entry forward gaining eight positions. Unfortunately his day would end early with a right front tire going down sending him hard into the wall. Ã¢â‚¬Å“It was a tough breakÃ¢â‚¬Â said the driver. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We were just trying to stay out of trouble but it found usÃ¢â‚¬Â he added.
Kennington was back in action a short while later as the K & N Pro Series West race began. After several early caution flags Kennington began moving forward in the field and by the half way point was running fourteenth. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We just took it easy early on and grabbed the spots if they were thereÃ¢â‚¬Â said Kennington.
During the second half of the race Kennington continued his march forward and moved inside the top-ten. The race stayed green for the final twenty laps and Kennington would cross the finish line eleventh. Ã¢â‚¬Å“If we had one more caution to help us with track position we would have finished event betterÃ¢â‚¬Â said Kennington after the race.
The exciting double header weekend of action at Phoenix was the result of tremendous support and cooperation from a number of supporters. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t thank all of the sponsors enoughÃ¢â‚¬Â said Kennington. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Dwight Kennedy from Northern Provincial Pipelines made the first call and almost immediately we had Clark Construction, Whitemud Mechanical and of course Mahindra Tractors join in to support both teams as well, we wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be here without themÃ¢â‚¬Â.
DJ Kennington is also very appreciative of the efforts from both race teams. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I worked with Randy MacDonald and MacDonald Motorsports for a long time and it was great to do it again. Bill McAnally Racing and their group of people are terrific. I want to thank everyone who came down here from Canada with me and worked non-stop all weekend tooÃ¢â‚¬Â said Kennington.
Race fans are encouraged to keep up to date with the latest team news in several ways. Race fans should bookmark the team website www.djkracing.ca and follow them on twitter, www.twitter.com/djkracing and look for the new DJK Racing Fan Page on Facebook.
Photo: DJ Kennington after hitting the wall at PIR by Joe Archer.