BIRES RETURNS TO SCENE OF NATIONWIDE DEBUT AT NASHVILLE Kelly Bires returns to the scene of his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut when the 23-year-old races the Pepsi 300 at Nashville Superspeedway in Lebanon, Tennessee this weekend. Bires has...
BIRES RETURNS TO SCENE OF NATIONWIDE DEBUT AT NASHVILLE
Kelly Bires returns to the scene of his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut when the 23-year-old races the Pepsi 300 at Nashville Superspeedway in Lebanon, Tennessee this weekend.
Bires has had a whirlwind NASCAR career to date, with the Wisconsin native going from part-time Craftsman Truck Series driver to a top 10 contender in the Nationwide Series in less than 12 months.
When Bires was called in to race the #47 Clorox Ford Fusion last season after just eight NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series starts, he made his mark right from race one in his new ride -- and that race was at Nashville, the site of this weekend's race.
Bires qualified in 20th position and finished 15th in his debut drive in the Clorox Ford, an outstanding effort that was followed up by a further five top 20 finishes, as well as two top 10 finishes, in the 18 races that followed for Bires in season 2007.
This year Bires will campaign the full 2008 NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule in the #47 Clorox Ford Fusion for JTG Racing and so far the likeable young driver has raised his game to the next level.
As he enters his second start at Nashville, Bires sits 11th in the Nationwide Series standings with four top 20 finishes from the first five races of the season.
With that in mind Bires is looking to capitalise on this good start to the year and post his first top 10 for 2008, seeing the first standalone Nationwide Series race of the season as a golden opportunity to jump back into the top 10 in the series standings. Bires sits 11th in the driver's standings after fives races, just 20 points behind Kyle Busch in 10th place.
Kelly Bires -- #47 Clorox Ford Fusion
"It feels really good when I look back on that first race at Nashville," said Bires.
"I actually wrecked in qualifying at that race on my second lap. The first lap was good enough for 20th fastest so we started in the back-up car and finished 15th. It was quite a start.
"I think I've really matured not just as a driver but as a person since that first Nationwide Series race.
"Our cars are so much better this year and the hard work that everyone has put in has really paid off. Having a good car is very important on the mile-and-a-half ovals, so it's great that JTG has been able to improve so much over the off-season.
"Nashville should be one of our best tracks this year. Our cars have generally been pretty good there and we think there will be less Cup drivers than usual this weekend.
"We've had a top 10 car this year so you would like to think that this weekend that could translate into a top five at Nashville.
"It will be my second time there and I'm getting a good feel for this year's car now, so I'm really looking forward to this weekend.
"We've got to the point where we are really focussing and pushing ourselves to be a team that can produce top 10s and top fives on a consistent basis. If we can do that then those really standout results like wins will come.
"It takes time to really grow a team into a consistent frontrunner, but we are all working hard and very keen for success, so things are looking up.
"I took some time out this week with my crew chief, Scott Zipadelli, and we went down to South Carolina and did some turkey hunting.
"It's really important to have a great relationship with your crew chief. Scott and I get along really well but it's always good to keep building on that because we have to work so closely. When a driver and crew chief can work well together then that's a big part of how to be successful in this sport."