Kelly Racing will this weekend add one of the most successful drivers in Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series history to its roster as Owen Kelly makes his return in the #77 Metaland Holden Commodore.
The Tasmanian, while no relation to Championship Series drivers Todd and Rick Kelly, will join the brothers' Jack Daniel's Racing squad later in the year for the endurance races at Phillip Island and Bathurst, but will get his eye in with Kelly Racing's first Fujitsu Series appearance. He currently sits third in the all-time Fujitsu Series race wins, and is eager to get some valuable experience behind the wheel of a V8 Supercar before his endurance call-up by making his 21st Fujitsu Series start.
"You can never replace seat time and the whole idea of running in the Fujitsu Series at Queensland Raceway this weekend is to make all the laps, be competitive and it would be great if we could get a win," Kelly explained, "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 - all things that are very important come the endurance races."
Meanwhile, Owen Kelly also predicted competitive racing at this weekend's Fujitsu Series round, which features a raft of former full-time V8 Supercar racers.
"I think it's a great idea to have main series teams giving their endurance drivers miles in the Fujitsu Series," he noted, "It will only help the Fujitsu Series and give it more exposure. With Paul Morris, Jack Perkins, Steve Owen and now our team, that will make it a good race.
"If the main series teams can keep giving their co-drivers a run, you could see a situation where just about every main series team will have to run a Fujitsu Series car for their endurance drivers to make sure they're competitive. Testing is so limited and the upside of running a Fujitsu Series car is that you can get sponsorship for it as well and have the programme help the whole team. You can't go out and get a sponsor to run a testing programme, so this is really the right way to go."
Kelly currently sits third in the all-time Fujitsu winners list, his 13 victories putting him behind Dean Canto's 21 and Paul Dumbrell's 15. He has recently been competing in the United States, racing late model stockcars in the Motor Mile Speedway Track Championship in 2008 before graduating to the 2009 UARA-STARS championship - both with Dale Earnhardt Jr's team JR Motorsports.
“It's great to have Owen in our team,” co-owner Rick Kelly claimed, “His motivation and 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!"
With the new rules governing the endurance line-ups, landing a third Kelly is something of a coup for the family team.
“Owen is very accomplished in a lot of different areas," Rick noted, "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.”