Lapcevich challenge falls just short in NASCAR inaugural

DJ Kennington celebrates another win at his home track of Delaware Speedway Saturday night.  (Photo: Matthew Murnaghan/NASCAR)

DJ Kennington celebrates another win at his home track of Delaware Speedway Saturday night. (Photo: Matthew Murnaghan/NASCAR)

Grimsby’s Jeff Lapcevich made it a race, but wasn’t able to overtake D.J. Kennington who kicked off his chase for his first NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 championship with a victory in the season-opener Saturday.

Kennington out-dueled JR Fitzpatrick over the closing laps to claim the Keystone Light 200 at Delaware Speedway. Lapcevich, who started in the No. 12 pole spot with his Chevy, took third place. Kennington had the No. 1 pole position and Fitzpatrick started at No. 2.

It was Kennington’s second win at the half-mile oval located just west of London. He won the inaugural event at his home track last season. And it marked the fifth career win for the 32-year-old from St. Thomas, Ont., who has finished second in the series points in two of the last three years.

A late-race caution set up a dash to the checkers between Kennington and Fitzpatrick as heavy rain was approaching. Rounding out the top 10 were John Gaunt, Pete Shepherd III, Pierre Bourque, Derek White, Ron Beauchamp Jr., Kerry Mick and Jason Hathaway.

In 14th place was Ancaster’s Brennan while Hamilton’s Don Thomson Jr., finished 21st and Trevor Monaghan of Hamilton was 23rd.

Kennington led most of the early going before pit stops. He retook the lead with a move past leaders Ron Sheridan and Mark Dilley on Lap 156. On the night, Kennington led the race four times for a race-high 130 laps. The lead changed hands 16 times involving eight drivers and the race was slowed 13 times for caution covering 101 laps.

NASCAR and track officials moved the start of the race up 30 minutes from its scheduled 8:30 p.m. start in an effort to avoid approaching bad weather. After a few sprinkles during driver introductions, the weather only caused a few short delays as it held off for the most part until the completion of the race.

The Keystone Light 200 will air on TSN on Saturday, June 12 at 2 p.m.

The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 is right back on the track next weekend at Mosport International Raceway – the first of five road-course races on the 2010 schedule – with practice and qualifying on Saturday, June 12 and the running of the Vortex Brake Pads 200 on Sunday, June 13.

Race Statistics

Time of Race: 1 hour 55 minutes 57 seconds.
Margin of Victory: .492 seconds.
Fastest Qualifier: D.Kennington (93.652 mph, 19.22 seconds).
Caution Flags: 13 for 101 laps.
Lead Changes: 16 among 8 drivers.

Lap Leaders: D. Kennington 1-6; K. Micks 7; D. Kennington 8-75; S. Mathews 76; D. Kennington 77-90; J. Fitzpatrick 91; P. Shepherd,III 92-93; J. Fitzpatrick 94-107; P. Shepherd,III 108-114; J. Lapcevich 115; P. Shepherd,III 116-127; J. Lapcevich 128-129; P. Shepherd,III 130; M. Dilley 131-154; R. Sheridan 155-158; M. Dilley 159; D. Kennington 160-201.

Standings: 1. D. Kennington, 190; 2. J. Fitzpatrick, 175; 3. J. Lapcevich, 170; 4. J. Gaunt, 160; 5. P. Shepherd,III, 160; 6. P. Bourque, 150; 7. D. White, 146; 8. K. Micks,143; 9. R. Beauchamp,Jr., 142; 10. R. Sheridan, 135.