Road America: Owen Kelly race report

AUSTRALIAN KELLY FINISHES FIFTH IN NASCAR DEBUT In Final 10 Laps Drives From Outside Top 20 into Top Five with Broken Sway Bar Arm ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (June 20, 2010) -- Coming into the Bucyrus 200 at Road America Owen Kelly had a goal of...

AUSTRALIAN KELLY FINISHES FIFTH IN NASCAR DEBUT

In Final 10 Laps Drives From Outside Top 20 into Top Five with Broken Sway Bar Arm

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (June 20, 2010) -- Coming into the Bucyrus 200 at Road America Owen Kelly had a goal of keeping his No. 27 K1 Speed Ford Fusion in one piece and finishing in the top 10 in his NASCAR debut. That plan got foiled when Kelly got tangled with Taylor Malsam in Turn 5 just past the halfway point of the race cutting a tire and causing minor damage to the fenders of his Ford Fusion. To make things worse as Kelly made his way around the four-mile track to the pits with the right front tire on the rim, the friction broke the sway bar arm. Despite the damage, in the final 10 laps of the race the Australian-born road racer drove from outside the top 20 to finish fifth completing a successful debut in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

"I really can't say enough about this team; to come away with a top five after the day we had is really quite an accomplishment." said Kelly. "We cut a tire with about 20 laps to go and wore out the sway bar trying to get back to pit road. After that the car was a bit of a handle, but I had to press on. The double-file restarts made things pretty interesting, but it was a lot of fun. To be on the same track racing all these guys I've been watching on television for so many years like Ron Hornaday, Jacques Villeneuve and Carl Edwards is really cool and something I certainly don't take for granted!"

After finishing in the top 10 in all four practices session, Kelly qualified ninth for Saturday's race. When the second caution of the race occurred on lap 13, he brought his K1 Speed Ford Fusion down pit road for four tires and fuel and returned to the track scored in the 11th position.

The race restarted on lap 15 and Kelly quickly made his way in and out of competitors making his way into the fourth spot by lap 17. He communicated to crew chief John Reese that the car was a little tight in the carousel but pretty good elsewhere. The K1 Speed Ford Fusion settled into the fourth spot for the next 11 laps and began turning the fastest laps of any car on the track.

Colin Braun got off the track in Turn 1 bringing out a caution on lap 28. Kelly brought the No. 27 down pit road where the Baker Curb Racing crew put four fresh tires, filled it with fuel and returned him to the track in the 10th spot. Shortly after the race restarted, Kelly made contact with Taylor Malsam in Turn 5 cutting a right tire which led to the sway bar damage.

Kelly limped his way around the four-mile course to pit road with a flat tire but a fast pit stop from the Baker Curb Racing crew allowed Kelly to return to the track still on the lead lap. Shortly after the Australian returned to the track a nine-car pileup in Turn 6 brought out the red-flag.

"After the sway bar broke on the K1 Speed Ford Fusion it really made the front side of the car roll over in the corners," said Kelly. "It felt like I was driving a speedboat but I knew I had to get up on the wheel and do all that I could do to get back to the front of the field."

When the race restarted on lap 34, Kelly was scored in the 21st position. By the time the final caution of the race occurred on lap 47 the second-generation road racer had made his way in and out of competitors into the ninth position. Over the final two laps of the race, Kelly muscled his damaged K1 Speed Ford Fusion around four more competitors earning a top-5 finish in his first NASCAR start.

-source: baker curb racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Colin Braun , Carl Edwards , Owen Kelly
Teams HART