D.J. Kennington drives  during a qualifying run for the Daytona 500 . (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- D.J. Kennington will bring some Canadian flavor to the Daytona 500.

Kennington, a stock car regular in NASCAR's racing series in Canada, was the biggest surprise in the qualifying Duel to earn the final transfer spot for the Daytona 500. The 39-year-old Kennington is the first Canadian to make the Daytona 500 field since Trevor Boys in 1988.

"Coming off of (turn) four, I wasn't in the race," Kennington said. "When we crossed the line, I was, so just an unbelievable feeling for us."

 

 

Kennington had made just one career Cup start, finishing 35th last season at Phoenix. Kennington wasn't sure another opportunity to race in Cup would come his way until he snagged a ride in the No. 96 Toyota for Gaunt Brothers Racing.

GRB, owned by Triad Racing Technologies president Marty Gaunt, will also run the two Cup races this season at Talladega and return to Daytona in July.

Just making the race was a major victory for Kennington and Gaunt.

"I don't even know how to explain it," Kennington said. "I feel like I won the Daytona 500."

He also credited longtime sponsors Castrol Canada and Lordco Auto Parts for supporting him in the race.
 
 
Kennington, of St. Thomas, Ontario, won two series championships and won 26 times in the Pinty Series, the elite Canadian stock car series. He made 50 career starts in NASCAR's second-tier Xfinity Series and five starts in Trucks.  
 
He seemed comfortable at Daytona.
 
"Never being in one of these cars, never drafting out here before, it was a pretty big deal for me, a lot of learning, I tell you," he said. "At the end we made it in. That's huge for us."