KELLY GANG GROWS BY ONE AS JACK DANIEL'S RACING SIGNS OWEN KELLY The Kelly Gang has grown by one with the signing of experienced driver Owen Kelly to Jack Daniel's Racing for the endurance races at Phillip Island and Bathurst later this ...
KELLY GANG GROWS BY ONE AS JACK DANIEL'S RACING SIGNS OWEN KELLY
The Kelly Gang has grown by one with the signing of experienced driver Owen Kelly to Jack Daniel's Racing for the endurance races at Phillip Island and Bathurst later this year.
The signing is a coup for Jack Daniel's Racing, with Owen Kelly one of the most experienced and highly credentialed drivers not racing full-time in V8 Supercars.
It also means that two Kellys will still team up in one of the team's Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodores, although Owen Kelly, originally from Tasmania, is no relation to the Kelly brothers from Mildura, Victoria.
Owen Kelly will partner either Todd or Rick Kelly at Phillip Island and Bathurst later this year, with new rules forcing full-time drivers to stay in their regular entry all season, denying Todd and Rick Kelly the chance to drive together at the V8 Supercar endurance events this season.
Owen Kelly has made eight Bathurst 1000 starts with a best finish of sixth with Nathan Pretty in 2005. Owen's best V8 Supercar Championship Series result came at the 2005 Sandown 500 when he finished third partnering Steven Richards.
The news follows the announcement last Thursday evening that former IndyCar Series champion and Indianapolis 500 winner Scott Dixon will race for Jack Daniel's Racing at the Armor All Gold Coast 600 this October in the third endurance event of the season.
Confirmation of the second co-driver in the Jack Daniel's Racing endurance driver line-up for the L&H 500 at Phillip Island on September 10-12 and the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 on October 7-10, and news on who will join Todd and Rick Kelly and Scott Dixon in the Jack Daniel's Commodores at the Armor All Gold Coast 600 in Queensland on October 22-24, will come at a later date.
In preparation for the all-important endurance events, Owen Kelly will be behind the wheel of the #77 Metaland Holden Commodore at Round 2 of the Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series at Queensland Raceway in Ipswich this weekend in Kelly Racing's debut in the second-tier V8 Supercar category.
Kelly was the winner of the first Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series event at Queensland Raceway back in 2001 and is third on the all-time race wins list in that championship with 13 victories.
Owen will also do laps in Rick Kelly's #15 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore in the first two practice sessions at Queensland Raceway this weekend, with Rick Kelly unable to compete in those two sessions as he is in the top 50 percent of the championship standings, currently sitting in seventh position.
Owen Kelly, 33, is originally from Tasmania but now shares his time between Melbourne and Charlotte, North Carolina where he races NASCAR Late Model speedway machines.
JACK DANIEL'S RACING QUOTEBOARD:
Rick Kelly - #15 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore:
"It's great to have Owen in our team," said Rick Kelly.
"His motivation and his attitude to everything has been really good and personally I'm quite excited about that.
"I look forward to getting him in one of our Jack Daniel's Commodores and having him drive in our race team.
"He's got a damn good last name as well.
"Owen is very accomplished in a lot of different areas. He's done a bit of American stuff and a lot of V8 Supercar stuff, so having him onboard in one of our Jack Daniel's Commodores certainly gives us as good a chance as anyone else to win Bathurst or get a great result.
"Splitting the drivers is a big thing. It's a new rule and it's very important that we capitalise on it and with Owen in our team, it's as good a pairing as you can get.
"That gives us great confidence heading into it and it would be great to have a Bathurst result, whether it's myself and Owen or Todd and Owen.
"It was a bit disappointing that Todd and myself couldn't be in the same car for the endurance races.
"We would have loved to have won Bathurst together but at least if we do win Bathurst it will be two Kellys in the one Jack Daniel's Commodore. So for us that's still pretty exciting.
"A great aspect of having Owen onboard is that he's fresh blood to our team. It's great to have him come onboard with his positive attitude and his will to go out there and win.
"I think that spreads right through the team and the guys are very excited about it. They all know that we've got a very good opportunity at the endurance races and it's a big lift for everyone."
Owen Kelly - Jack Daniel's Racing endurance driver:
"It's certainly my best chance to win Bathurst," said Owen Kelly.
"Rick and Todd have both won it before and I've got a lot of experience there. It's really going to make it the best Bathurst for a long time because there will be genuinely 15 cars that can win the race.
"There are probably five or six of us as drivers who are in a unique position, in that we have a lot of experience in the endurance races and V8 Supercars in general but we are not racing full-time in the category.
"You can't buy that experience and for guys like me that have driven them before but are not full-time in the championship it puts us in a really good position for the endurance races with these new rules.
"I think Jack Daniel's Racing is heading in the right direction. I've worked with a lot of the guys on this team before at other teams over the years and there are a lot of great people here.
"The cars are good and the results are getting better all the time. Rick in particular is getting very close to the front.
"As competitive as it is in V8 Supercars, for still being relatively new operation this team is in a great position.
"I've been based in America for the last two years and I've done about 60 NASCAR late model races.
"You do a huge amount of driving over there. I also did the Daytona 24 hour and couple of other Sportscar races and I've got some more plans for later this year back over there as well.
"So I will be getting plenty of racing in between now and the endurance races. Racing in the Fujitsu Series in Queensland this weekend will be very beneficial.
"You can never replace seat time and the whole idea is just to make all the laps, be competitive and it would be great if we could get a win.
"But the big picture is to get some racing miles, get used to running on new tyres, all things that you can't do on a test day."
-source: kelly racing