Hamilton’s Thompson happy with third place finish

nascarcanadaDJ Kennington waited until the last minute, but came away with the big prize. Kennington passed Scott Steckly just prior to taking the white flag at the Lucas Oil National 250 – just moments after Steckly had taken the lead away from Kerry Micks – and picked up the victory Saturday at Autodrome St. Eustache, Que.

Hamilton’s Don Thompson Jr. crossed the line with a hard-fought third-place effort and considered the night a success.

“The Home Hardware Chevrolet was not particularly good tonight, so we’ll take this one and move on to the next,” he said. “It’s always fun to race at St. Eustache. The fans here are just great and are into it all race long.”

Steckly and Micks were battling each other and trying to use lapped traffic to their advantage when, all of a sudden, the bottom of the race track was left open for Kennington, who hails from St. Thomas, Ont., to dive into his first and only lead of the night.

“This one was kind of gift wrapped for us,” said Kennington. “(Steckly) and (Micks) were going at it — just racing hard — and the door opened up for me and I walked through it.”

It was Kennington’s second win in three NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 races this season. His sixth career victory came in drastically different fashion than his dominating performance at Delaware (Ont.) Speedway on June 5.

“A win is a win any way they come,” he said. “Not going to say that we totally had it handed to us, though. The Castrol Edge Dodge was great all day and near the front all race long. However, if it didn’t play out the way it did, I’m not sure that we had enough there at the end.”

Micks, who won his first pole position of the season earlier in the day in his Beyond Digital Imaging/Dickies Ford, had a dominate car and was the class of the field in the early going before tangling with John Gaunt on Lap 65 after which Micks, out of Mt. Albert, Ont., was assessed a rough-driving penalty. Micks, then, worked his way back to the front of the field and passed Kennington for second on Lap 231 and Steckly for the lead on Lap 240. But as they approached the white flag, Micks got sideways and lost several spots.

Steckly, who led a race-high 123 laps, settled for second in his Canadian Tire/MotoMaster Dodge. While sympathetic, Steckly was not overly apologetic on how the events unfolded at the end of the race.

“I do hate it for (Micks). They had a great car, but we were both using lapped cars there,” said the driver out of Milverton, Ont. “But it was just hard racing and we both were going for the win. That’s what I’m here to do- win races.”

Jason Hathaway and Ron Beauchamp Jr. closed out the evening with fourth and fifth-place finishes, respectively.

Micks, Anthony Simone, JR Fitzpatrick, Andrew Ranger and Mark Dilley rounded out the top 10.

After winning the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East event at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn., earlier in the day, Ranger took an over two-hour helicopter ride to St. Eustache and arrived at the track just as driver introductions were getting underway. Steve Cote, an Autodrome St. Eustache NASCAR Whelen All-American Series competitor, practised and qualified Ranger’s No. 27 Dodge. However, due to the driver change, Ranger had to start the race from the back of the field and the Roxton Pond, Quebec driver came up short in his effort to navigate his way to the front and collect a unique multi-country doubleheader sweep.

The race lead changed hands eight times between five drivers and there were six caution periods covering 39 laps.

TSN coverage of the Lucas Oil National 250 coverage will be telecast on Saturday, July 10 at 11:30 a.m. ET.

In the championship point standings, Kennington jumped back into the top spot and leads Fitzpatrick by 18 points.

The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil is next back in action on July 16-17 for the Jumpstart 100 on the Streets of Toronto as part of the Honda Indy Toronto.