Symmons Plains: Jack Daniel's Racing preview

RICK KELLY BECOMES YOUNGEST DRIVER TO START 100 EVENTS IN TASMANIA Jack Daniel's Racing driver Rick Kelly will forge his name into the history books when he starts his 100th V8 Supercar event at the Falken Tasmania Challenge at Symmons Plains ...

Symmons Plains: Jack Daniel's Racing preview

RICK KELLY BECOMES YOUNGEST DRIVER TO START 100 EVENTS IN TASMANIA

Jack Daniel's Racing driver Rick Kelly will forge his name into the history books when he starts his 100th V8 Supercar event at the Falken Tasmania Challenge at Symmons Plains Raceway near Launceston this weekend.

At 26 years of age, Kelly will become the youngest driver in the 50-year history of the Australian Touring Car Championship to start 100 rounds.

The 2006 V8 Supercar Champion and two-time Bathurst winner will wrestle the mantle from brother and Jack Daniel's Racing team-mate Todd Kelly, who was the previous record holder when he reached the century mark at Oran Park in 2007.

Rick Kelly will become the 30th driver to compete in 100 ATCC events, following in the footsteps of legends such as Peter Brock, Allan Moffat, Dick Johnson, Mark Skaife and John Bowe, who holds the all-time record at 225 events.

Kelly already holds a special place in the history books, as the youngest ever event winner and youngest Bathurst winner, achieving both feats when winning the 2003 Bathurst 1000 alongside Greg Murphy at the tender age of 20 years, eight months and 25 days.

Kelly will be aged 26 years, four months and 12 days when he takes to the track aboard the #15 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore at Symmons Plains Raceway.

At age 18, Kelly made his V8 Supercar debut at the Queensland 500 in Ipswich in 2001, partnered with Nathan Pretty in a Kmart Racing Holden Commodore VX.

Although still relatively young in age, Kelly has amassed one of the most impressive records in V8 Supercars in his career to date, which has been exclusively in Holden Commodore machinery.

Kelly won back-to-back Bathurst crowns with Murphy in 2003 and 2004, going on to win the 2006 V8 Supercar Championship Series title with the Kelly family-owned HSV Dealer Team.

Kelly, now driving for Jack Daniel's Racing as part of the all-new Kelly Racing operation, is competing alongside his older brother Todd for the time as full-time team-mates.

The pair has paired up twice in their career for the V8 Supercar endurance races, finishing second at both Sandown and Bathurst in 2006.

Kelly has previous form at Symmons Plains, taking a race win at the short, demanding circuit in 2004. Brother Todd, who will start his 124th event in Tasmania, won the first race at the Symmons Plains venue last season, which was the first V8 Supercar race win for Jack Daniel's.

RICK KELLY - BY THE NUMBERS ...

Date of Birth: 17 January 1983
Event Starts: 99 (100th in Tasmania)
Race Wins: 10
Event Wins: Five
Event Podiums: 24
Debut Event: 2001 Queensland 500

Career Highlights:
- 2006 V8 Supercar Champion
- 2004 Bathurst winner
- 2003 Bathurst winner
- 2007 Clipsal 500 winner
- 2008 winner of final ever V8 Supercar race at Oran Park
- 2001 Aust. Formula Holden Champion
- 2000 Aust. Formula Ford Runner-Up

The other drivers to reach to 100 round mark in the 50-year history of the Australian Touring Car Championship are:

John Bowe, Mark Skaife, Peter Brock, Glenn Seton, Dick Johnson, Tony Longhurst, Russell Ingall, Larry Perkins, Steven Richards, Craig Lowndes, Greg Murphy, Paul Morris, Garth Tander, Steven Johnson, Jim Richards, Jason Bright, Jason Bargwanna, Cameron McConville, Colin Bond, Todd Kelly, Steven Ellery, John Faulkner, Murray Carter, Jason Richards, Brad Jones, Paul Radisich, Mark Larkham, Paul Weel and Allan Moffat.

JACK DANIEL'S RACING QUOTEBOARD

Rick Kelly - #15 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore:

QUESTION: It's a century for you in Tassie with 100 event starts. Are you one to look at milestones and statistics?

"Not really. It's definitely not the sort of thing you think about too much. It does give you a refresher and make you realise just how long you've been in the category.

"One hundred rounds is quite a bit and it makes you feel a little bit old and makes you look at what you have achieved in your career at this point.

"I'm probably not thinking too much about that. I'm more focussed on thinking about the championship position I've got in front of me, which is something I'm really excited about.

"To be fifth in points at this early stage for the new team is a great success in itself.

"The Jack Daniel's Racing crew and everyone within Kelly Racing is extremely excited about our position and excited about where we're heading in the future, with the development items we've got in planning and just our future plans in general.

"Todd got a fantastic result at Symmons Plains last year and I've had a lot of pace there and some good results there in the past so I'm very excited about the weekend.

"We started the season aiming for a top five finish. Now we're already aiming for a top three finish and that's good progression at this point.

"Todd and myself are both aiming to bring home a trophy from one of the days at Symmons."

Q: There have been three events so far and you've made a very good start to be fifth in the standings. Do you feel like there is stlll a lot more to come?

"Absolutely. I mean, by no means are we sitting around celebrating the position we're in. We have team meetings quite regularly and we sit down and work out how we're going to go about improving and being one of the most competitive teams out there.

"The guys within the team have got a lot of experience and all lot of great ideas on how we can progress from where we are at the moment to being up the front.

"That in itself excites me and there is a lot of enthusiasm and excitement from those key guys within the team as well."

Todd Kelly - #7 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore:

Q: It's always good to return to a track where you've had a win in the past and in the case of Tassie it wasn't that long ago.

"For sure. Both of the new Jack Daniel's Commodores that we've built are quite good, but they're not where we want them to be just yet.

"This weekend will be the first time that we've able to take our cars to the track and back-to-back it with information from my car from the second half of last year, which was a new car.

"It was obviously at this track that it performed really well, so it will be a good indication for us to see how far we've gone and how much we've improved the cars.

"Of course, we're also hoping to have a really strong round there to try and get back a few championship points."

Q: How similar is the car you drove at Symmons Plains last year to the 2009-spec Jack Daniel's Racing Commodore?

"There are lots of things on the car that are different. The new chassis is a little bit different and a little bit of the running gear is different.

"We are going to go there with a very similar set-up to what I had last year, similar springs and similar geometry to what we had last time, and that will be a baseline set-up to try and see where we're at.

"There are a lot of small things on the car that have been changed and slightly improved."

Q: Last year at Symmons Plains was a weekend where you were obviously very fast, but it was also a case of everything going right. This year has showed that you need the speed as well as the luck, because while Rick is fifth in the championship, some DNFs see you down in 23rd.

"I just need to have a good, clean weekend. Of all the races this year I've not finished many of them. There have been two races where I've broken the steering and a race where I broke an axle.

"Of races of the races so far, there have been too many where I haven't finished and scored any points.

"It's pretty bad where I'm sitting in the championship now and Symmons is a perfect place to try and turn that around. We need to be strong in practice and try to get the car up the front and get some serious points. We need to give Jack Daniel's and all our sponsors a good result as well."

-credit: kellyracing.com.au

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IRWIN Racing newsletter 2009-05-16

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