Australian driver Owen Kelly has made a great start to his NASCAR debut with sixth fastest in final practice for the Bucyrus 200 at the Road America road course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin today (Friday US time - Saturday morning Australian time).

Kelly was in the top 10 in all four practice sessions held at the 4.048-mile (6.515 km) circuit in his #27 Ford Fusion of Baker Curb Racing, a positive sign ahead of qualifying and the race tomorrow.

Kelly, who before this weekend had never driven a Nationwide Series car and never been to the Road America circuit, turned heads in first practice when he was second fastest in the 35-car field.

From that point on, the Tasmanian driver concentrated on learning the Nationwide Series car and making set-up adjustments aimed at making the car last tomorrow's 50-lap race.

Former Formula 1 World Champion and Indy 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve was fastest in final practice at Road America today, with American sportscar driver Patrick Long in fourth place. Villeneuve, Long and Kelly will all race V8 Supercars at the Armor All Gold Coast 600 in Surfers Paradise, Australia on October 22-24 later this year.


Owen Kelly - #27 Baker Curb Racing Ford Fusion:

"It wasn't a bad day today to end up with sixth this afternoon," said Owen Kelly.

"Because I've never even driven a Nationwide car we've been trying lots of things and seeing how they work.

"We've been sure to work on our race package because that's where it counts the most.

"I'm really happy with the car and the pace we have. I think we can qualify near the front and we've got a solid car for the race.

"We only used one set of tyres all day yesterday and managed to be quick. Second fastest in the first practice was a great result.

"Now I know what we've got I'm pretty happy about it. It's very competitive here this weekend but we are in the top bunch of cars consistently, which is a good sign.

"As a rookie I didn't know what to expect, but now I feel much better about it all.

"For me this is a new car and a new track, so I've had to learn a lot. I'm getting more and more comfortable with every lap, just learning how the car behaves, what we need to look out for with the brakes, etc.

"This is an awesome track. It would be unreal to have a V8 Supercar race here, that's for sure. Having said that, these Nationwide cars actually drive really well around a road course.

"Road America is four miles long and has a huge straight. I love how this place has so much history as well.

"It's one of the premier tracks in US and I grew up watching CART races here, so it's very cool to be racing here in NASCAR."

-source: ok/bam