RICK KELLY GRABS FOURTH PLACE IN DARWIN Rick Kelly has delivered Jack Daniel's Racing its fourth top five finish for the season, but that elusive first podium for 2009 has slipped through Kelly's fingers in the final race of the SKYCITY Triple...
RICK KELLY GRABS FOURTH PLACE IN DARWIN
Rick Kelly has delivered Jack Daniel's Racing its fourth top five finish for the season, but that elusive first podium for 2009 has slipped through Kelly's fingers in the final race of the SKYCITY Triple Crown at Hidden Valley Raceway in Darwin today.
Kelly ran second for the majority of today's race, on-track for the first podium finish for the new Kelly Racing operation, only for a late and controversial Safety Car called for the stalled car of Tim Slade to bunch the pack and slash the significant gap that Kelly had established between himself and third placed Garth Tander.
Kelly was unable to hold onto second once the race was restarted with nine laps remaining, with Craig Lowndes pushing Kelly wide onto the grass shortly after the restart and Alex Davison taking advantage of his soft tyres to pass Kelly's #15 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore with four laps to go.
In the end, Kelly was able to withstand a challenge from Tander to hold onto fourth, equalling his best finish for the season, following a solid ninth place in qualifying earlier in the day.
Kelly rises one spot in the 2009 V8 Supercar Championship Series standings, passing Mark Winterbottom to again lie in seventh place on the points table after 10 of 26 races.
Jack Daniel's Racing team-mate Todd Kelly qualified in fourth position earlier in qualifying, his third consecutive top five qualifying performance.
The 29-year-old made a solid start to today's 69-lap race but his #7 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore soon developed an engine misfire.
Initially, the problem was only minor, with Todd Kelly gradually catching yesterday's race winner Jamie Whincup. Mid-race, however, the issue worsened and he was forced into the Jack Daniels' Racing team garage for repairs.
Todd Kelly was able to rejoin the race to complete enough laps to be classified as a finisher, scoring enough championship points to hold onto 20th place in the V8 Supercar Championship Series standings.
Michael Caruso won today's second race of the SKYCITY Triple Crown ahead of Davison, Lowndes and Rick Kelly.
The next event in the 2009 V8 Supercar Championship Series is the inaugural Dunlop Townsville 400 in far north Queensland on July 10-12.
JACK DANIEL'S RACING QUOTEBOARD
Rick Kelly - #15 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore:
QUESTION: Another strong finish but it must be disappointing to miss a podium after running second for most of the race?
"It certainly is disappointing," said Rick Kelly.
"I think as a team we put the race together to finish in second place there, but we were a little bit robbed that we didn't to be honest,"
"I think the team as a whole deservers to be up there and we certainly proved that today.
"The Safety Car, in a lot of people's mind, was probably questionable and it took a second place off of us at the end of the day, which was extremely disappointing.
"Lowndesy then ran me into the grass after the restart, which was a bit of fun, and we finished fourth. So that's a fantastic result for the team but it's also the most frustrating result of the year because second was well and truly in our sights."
QUESTION: It wasn't an easy race. The heat was a factor and your car didn't quite have the pace of Michael Caruso.
"We didn't quite have the pace of Caruso. He has done an exceptional job to put those laps together and I'm satisfied with the race I put together as well. It's probably one of the better racers I've put together this year but we were probably just a little short on outright car speed.
"So I think I need to do a little bit better job in practice and qualifying in the future and we should be OK."
QUESTION: This is the fourth top five of the season for Jack Daniel's Racing. That's great given the team is brand new but surely the first podium is not far away?
"We've put ourselves in the position at this event and the last event to finish on the podium through our pace and pit stops. The team has done a great job all year but those podiums have been taken off of us.
"I think it's only a matter of time before Jack Daniel's Racing gets a podium finish and everything is certainly heading in the right direction."
Todd Kelly - #7 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore:
"The Jack Daniel's Commodore was good today and we showed that by qualifying fourth on a set of used tyres," said Todd Kelly.
"Everyone in front me and behind me was on green tyres for qualifying today so the pace was outstanding in qualifying.
"In the race the Jack Daniel's Commodore was an improvement from yesterday as well.
"The misfire that developed in the engine came on fairly gradually. It wasn't too bad initially and I was still hanging on to the back of (Jamie) Whincup after the guys on the softer tyres got past us.
"Then I started to gain on him but then the misfire just got worse and worse until everyone started racing past me.
"It is a real shame. Both Jack Daniel's Commodores were obviously quite quick in the race today and we are getting a lot closer to where we need to be."