The Jack Daniel’s Nissan Altima driver qualified 10th at Hidden Valley Raceway this morning, securing the team’s first appearance in a Top 10 Shootout.
Kelly picked up three places on his shootout lap to start the race seventh, and despite an oil temperature issue in the early stages, the former V8 champion was able to finish a fine fifth.
In Nissan's returning year to top-level Australian touring car racing, the result marks the first time a Nissan Altima has finished inside the top five in the competitive V8 championship.
Adding to the success for the team was a top 10 finish for Michael Caruso in the #36 Norton 360 Altima. Caruso’s finishing position was his best result for the 2013 season.
Moffat’s stellar comeback has ensured he remains in 13th in the championship points.
Todd Kelly had to deal with a puncture in the opening laps of the race, dropping to last. He stormed through to finish 17th.
The Skycity Triple Crown concludes tomorrow with two qualifying sessions and two races.
Rick Kelly – #15 Jack Daniel’s Nissan Altima
Race 17 qualifying: 7th
Race 17 result: 5th
“It was a very eventful race for everyone today, we had a little bit of an oil temperature problem in the first half of the race and it hindered us a little bit,” Rick Kelly said.
“We let four or five cars go and it was probably for the better when you look at the restart for the second half of the race, because that’s exactly where I would have been where the accident was.
“We made up from other people unfortunate circumstances and got to fifth, so the car is quite good and we can definitely build on that for tomorrow.
“I’m very happy to finish fifth because there are probably a few cars out there that are a bit quicker than us, so we can make a few changes overnight to get it event better, but it’s definitely in the window.”
Michael Caruso – #36 Norton 360 Nissan Altima
Race 17 qualifying: 15th
Race 17 result: 10th
“It’s fantastic to get my first top 10 result for Nissan Motorsport. Personally, I’m always striving for better, but it’s good to see the improvements in the Nissan Altima,” said Michael Caruso.
“Unfortunately, I got caught up in the incident at the start of the race and lost a few spots, and had that not been, we would have been looking really good.
“The Altima has some great speed at the moment and we can go away tonight, analysis where we’re strong and where we’re weak and try and improve on it for tomorrow.
“Ultimately, I think we had a better car on soft tyres which is what we used in practice yesterday, so hopefully we can get inside the top 15 in qualifying. If we can start near the front, we have the potential to race at the front too.”
James Moffat – #360 Norton 360 Nissan Altima
Race 17 qualifying: 27th
Race 17 result: 15th
“We scored a few spots in the carnage on the first lap, and there were some penalties which helped us out. So the positives are that we were able to drag some solid points out of the race,” said Moffat.
“Fundamentally, though, it was an ordinary day. We qualified very poorly. We made a slight adjustment for the start of the second half of the race which made the car a little better. Ultimately, it was frustrating and we have to sit down and try and come up with a solution for the car.”
Todd Kelly – #7 Jack Daniel’s Nissan Altima
Race 17 qualifying: 23rd
Race 17 result: 17th
“We had a tough run in qualifying; the worst run we’ve had all weekend. The car was really good on softs, but when we put the hards on we were just outside the window a little bit,” Todd Kelly said.
“Unfortunately a bit of very average driving out there ran us off the track and we lost the right front tyre, which put me last, but once we sorted that, the pace was on par with what the leaders were doing.
“I tried to move up a little bit I the second part of the race and we got everything dialed in a lot better after qualifying, so hopefully we can have a nicer run tomorrow.”