Kelly describes the opportunity that he is being given to make his NASCAR Sprint Cup debut for Phoenix Racing – the eighth Australian to do so – “as a dream come true.”
“There is no other way to describe this,” he said. “When you look at the numbers, NASCAR is the pinnacle of world motorsports and I am humbled that an organization with the history and depth of Phoenix Racing has provided me with this opportunity.
“It has all come together very quickly, but I have to thank everyone who has been so supportive of me including James Finch, Nick Harrison, Andrew Dickeson and the Joe Gibbs Racing operation. I am proud to be one of a select few Australians to have been given a shot at NASCAR’s top level and I will be doing everything in my power to give Phoenix Racing the best possible result at Watkins Glen.”
He will team up at Watkins Glen with another Australian in Dickeson – who will act as engineer for Kelly throughout the weekend. The pair worked with each other in V8 Supercars before making the move to the USA, with Dickeson quipping that they were “getting the band back together.”
Having a familiar accent in the garage, Kelly says, will help his transition to Sprint Cup even more.
“Hearing that Aussie accent around the team might seem like a small thing, but it’s quite a big deal,” Kelly explained. “It helps just making the transition that ever bit more comfortable. I think it’s pretty cool that two Aussies are teaming up to take on the best in the world at their own game.
“Andrew’s a ‘good bloke’ as we’d say back home, he’s seriously pumped about the weekend, to be honest, I think he’s even more excited than I am.”
Kelly expects the competition to be tough and whilst as a racer he is always aiming to win, the key for him will be to score a good result, put a solid race together and finish on the lead lap.
With two Aussies in the Cheez-It 355 this weekend – especially two Tasmanians – there’s little doubt many eyes will be glued to the TV screens downunder this weekend – even if it will be 2 a.m. Monday morning.