Novocastrian Drew Russell had a strong run in the Fujitsu V8 Supercar series this weekend at the Sydney Telstra 500, qualifying in 12th and finishing in 7th place in both races.
This was the final round of the 2009 season and Drew was hoping to finish a challenging year on a high, which is exactly what he did.
The weekend got off to a difficult start with the car developing a misfire during Friday's practice sessions. Despite this Drew and the team were confident that they had a good car.
The team worked late into the night to clear the problem and the car was much better during the early morning qualifying session.
Qualifying was busy with two red flags and a lot of traffic to contend with. Drew struggled to get a good, clear run during the session and was caught out by a number of red flags caused when tyre bundles used to deter drivers from using the curbs were dragged onto the track.
In what was an incredibly close session, Drew qualified in 12th place, but was just 0.03 sec off 8th place.
Drew made a cautious start, backing off going into the first corner when he saw chaos ahead of him.
He dropped back to 15th initially but the moved paid off with 3 cars coming together ahead of him in the chicane. Drew was able to pass them cleanly and was back in 12th place.
The incident brought out the safety car and when the racing began Drew was right on the rear bumper of Rodney Jane. Drew pushed him hard and was able to pass him on lap 7.
Whilst others around him fell off Drew drove a clean race and worked his way up into 7th position at the end of the race.
Race two was run on Sunday morning with Drew starting in a strong 7th position. Unlike the first race Drew got an excellent start jumping up into 6th place. Drew held this position until lap 7 when hard charging championship contender David Russell passed him.
Drew held on to finish in a solid 7th place that saw him also finish in 7th place overall for the weekend, with his biggest ever round points haul.
Even though Drew was forced to sit out 3 rounds mid season his excellent results in the races he did compete in were good enough to see him finish the season in 13th place outright.
"I am really pleased with how my weekend has gone. To come away this weekend with only minimal damage and a good haul of points is a great way to finish the season," Drew said.
"We will be back next year for a full year attack on the championship and I can't wait.
"I have to thank ESET for all their support this weekend. Quiet a few of them were here this weekend and I am glad I was able to put on a good show for them, particularly with my pass on Jane and avoiding the spinning Assaillit.
"I also have to thank Novocastrian Motorsport for the massive effort in this year. The team stepped in when I came back to the series after sitting out three rounds in the middle of the season. Their hard work and dedication is second to none and I certainly would not have got this far without them.
"Thank you also to everyone who has supported me on and off the track. I will be back next year stronger and faster."
Drew's younger brother Aaren is also doing the family proud having secured 4th place in the NSW Formula Vee championship and was last night awarded the 'young hot shot' award and young driver of the year award.
-credit: jane rowe