Nissan Motorsport has enjoyed a pair of strong results in the final race of the ITM 500 Auckland at Pukekohe Park today.
Caruso qualified the #36 Norton Nissan Altima strongly in seventh and used excellent race pace to pick up two places, crossing the line in fifth place.
The result has moved him up to 13th in the V8 Supercars Championship – the best of the Nissan Motorsport quartet.
Jack Daniel's Nissan driver Rick Kelly saved his best result until the last race of the weekend with a strong eighth place result.
Kelly started 10th and stayed out of trouble in the Safety Car-free race to claim a valuable top 10 finish.
After a strong run yesterday, James Moffat had a difficult day. Moffat qualified down in 19th place – well off his potential – and eventually finished 16th.
Todd Kelly also had a frustrating race. After qualifying ninth, Todd copped a drive-through penalty for speeding in pit lane, putting him at the back of the field.
The next event of the V8 Supercars Championship will be held at Perth’s Barbagallo Raceway on May 16-18.
Michael Caruso, #36 Norton Nissan Altima
“It’s a credit to the Nissan Motorsport crew for this result,” said Michael Caruso.
“We had some mechanical problems on Friday and Saturday, we fixed those up, qualified in seventh today and moved up a couple of spots at the end.
“Today’s race was worth a lot more points, so we really needed this result to bounce back after a couple of tough rounds.
“Again, the boys here did a fantastic job today. They solved the problems we had early and I’m really proud of them.
“Barbagallo Raceway is next on the calendar, and that’s a circuit where you really know if you have a good car or not. I think we’ll come away from there with a good understanding of our true speed relative to others.
“We’ve also got a test coming up after Barbagallo too, so that will be perfect timing. We’ve got some ideas on what we want to do, but we’re just holding them until that test.”
James Moffat, #360 Norton Nissan Altima
“That’s the sort of result you get when you don’t qualify well,” said James Moffat.
“We didn’t chase the set-up hard enough in qualifying and we paid the price. All of the other Nissans qualified inside the top 10, and that was very disappointing.
“Our pace in the race was good. We trucked along and picked up a couple of spots, but the result just wasn’t good enough.
“We’ll pick up the pieces and try our best at Barbagallo.”
Rick Kelly, #15 Jack Daniel's Racing Nissan Altima
"It's good that we managed a better result today because it was for triple points compared to the other races," said Rick Kelly.
"It was a pretty strong car today, we didn't quite get the strategy as good as hoped, but we ran up the front and had really strong race pace.
"For us it's a step further forward, I just need to do an even better job in qualifying and put us a little further forward.
"Really, that's the only thing that held us back from getting to spray champagne, and that for us is really exciting.
"It's a step forward, and we definitely had the potential there to be up as high as probably third with that race package.
"We can be happy with that, that does really prove that Nissan Motorsport has made a good leap forward in the last couple of rounds, and we have been able to capitalise on it, particularly with Michael (Caruso's) fifth position.
"We can take a lot away from that, and we've just got to put our head down and not make any errors, and just put a clean weekend together."