PENSACOLA, Fla. – The Carswell Motorsports team has hired veteran driver Paul Kelley to pilot their No. 98 super late model this season.
Kelley will drive the team’s car full-time on the Southern Super Series with hopes of capturing the championship in 2017.
“Jake (Carswell) called me last week and asked me if I would be interested in driving for him,” Kelley said. “I have known Jake & Deanna Carswell for years from having driven against them and now we are teaming up for the 2017 season. Jake said they wanted to go for the championship in the Southern Super Series and that’s what we are game for.”
Kelley is a four-time World Crown 300 winner at the now-defunct Gresham Motorsports Park in Georgia. Outside of that facility, he has a lot of experience at area tracks and even victories at Florida’s Five Flags Speedway in some now-defunct series.
“I’ve won at Five Flags and run most of the tracks on the schedule and it’s nice to get back behind the wheel with such a good team.”
Kelley’s most recent start behind the wheel was during the 2012 Snowball Derby. He had a pair of top 10 runs in prior Snowball Derby’s. Since then he’s been at the track working with young driver R.S. Senter in a driver coach roll. Now he’s ready to make his return behind the wheel.
“I’ve not been away from the sport, but just the fire suit,” Kelley added. “It’s like riding a bike. I have missed it a lot and I am looking forward to it.”
Having not run for a championship in several seasons, Kelley is eager to make the run for the title which will be his first since an ARA title in 2001 when he was 21 years old.
“Points racing is something I didn’t do a lot of,” he explained. “We based our schedule on big races and where the money was, but now it’s the goal. This is a tough series and the drivers that run the Southern Super Series make it really competitive.”
Kelley will test this week with the Carswell Motorsports team before loading up for the Rattler 250 at South Alabama Speedway this weekend.
“I’ll have to knock off a little rust first,” Kelley said. “We are going to test and we are planning to start with a baseline setup and go from there. It may take us a few races to get things figured out, but I know we can give a solid effort.”
The team previously won the Southern Super Series championship with current NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Daniel Hemric in 2013. The team has finished top three in the Southern Super Series point standings during three of the past four seasons. Hemric finished second in points in 2014, while his wife Kenzie Hemric (formerly Ruston) finished third in points one year ago.