Gaunt Brothers Racing, previously a team in Canada's NASCAR Pinty's Series that last competed in 2011, made its Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut as an organization Sunday afternoon in the season-opening Daytona 500.
D.J. Kennington, a native of St. Thomas, Ontario, became the first Canadian since Trevor Boys in 1988 to compete in the Daytona 500. He started 28th in the Lordco/Castrol Toyota Camry before recording a 36th-place finish due to his involvement in a multi-car crash on lap 138 of the 200-lap, 500-mile contest.
In starting the race, team owner Marty Gaunt, also the president of Triad Racing Technologies, fulfilled a lifelong dream of becoming a Cup Series team owner. Despite the result, he viewed the week leading up to the sport's biggest race as a success.
"We have to look at everything with a 40,000-foot view," said Gaunt. "We came down, qualified, raced in the Duel, made the Daytona 500 and gained speed every time we were on the racetrack."
Kennington finished 14th in Thursday's second Can-Am Duel qualifying race, despite his rookie status on restrictor plate racetracks such as Daytona.
"Unfortunately, we got caught up in the wreck and there was nothing we could do about it," Gaunt continued. "For companies like Lordco and Castrol coming on board, and Toyota and RAB Racing who provided outstanding support, it is unfortunate that this happened. We might be a little depressed right now, but we're not down and out. We'll rebuild the car. We already have a really good backup car. We'll be ready for Talladega."
GBR previously announced their debut season would consist of four races, with the next coming at Talladega Superspeedway (Ala.) on Sunday, May 7. The driver has yet to be announced.
Kennington was one of 17 drivers collected in the lap-138 accident, which also included eventual race winner Kurt Busch and 2016 series champion Jimmie Johnson.
"I was coming through the middle and they started crashing," Kennington summarized. "I think somebody turned Jimmie [Johnson] and he came down to the bottom of the racetrack and I just couldn't miss him and caught him with the right front [of the car] and that was the end of our day."
Kennington echoed his owner's sentiment about the magnitude of the team's weeklong achievement.
"It was really awesome being here for Castrol and Lordco, our sponsors, and Toyota," said Kennington. "We raced in the Daytona 500, and we felt good about how we were running. We'll be back again."