PUKEKOHE, New Zealand – Jack Daniel's Racing driver Rick Kelly saved his best result from V8 Supercar's New Zealand journey until the last race of the weekend, with a strong eighth place result in his Nissan Altima at Pukekohe Park Raceway.
The 200km feature event of the weekend ran safety car free, with Kelly able to advance from his 10th starting position, and claim a solid haul of points after overcoming some stout competition.
The result for Rick sees him climb to 16th in the season standings after 13 races.
Todd Kelly meanwhile endured a tough outing, after starting from ninth position for the third successive race.
A drive through penalty for pit lane speeding saw Todd drop a lap to the race leaders, before crossing the finishing line in 24th place.
The V8 Supercars Championship continues at Barbagallo Raceway from May 16 to 18 with the Perth 400.
Rick Kelly - #15 Jack Daniel's Racing Nissan Altima:
"It's good that we managed a better result today because it was for triple points compared to the other races," said Rick Kelly.
"It was a pretty strong car today. We didn't quite get the strategy as good as hoped, but we ran up the front and had really strong race pace.
"For us it's a step further forward. I just need to do an even better job in qualifying and put us a little further forward.
"Really, that's the only thing that held us back from getting to spray champagne, and that for us is really exciting.
"It's a step forward, and we definitely had the potential there to be up as high as probably third with that race package.
"We can be happy with that. That does really prove that Nissan Motorsport has made a good leap forward in the last couple of rounds, and we have been able to capitalize on it, particularly with Michael (Caruso's) fifth position.
"We can take a lot away from that, and we've just got to put our head down and not make any errors, and just put a clean weekend together."
Michael Caruso scores fine fifth place result in New Zealand
Michael Caruso has finished fifth in the final race of the ITM 500 Auckland at Pukekohe Park last weekend.
Caruso qualified strongly in seventh and used excellent race pace to pick up two places, crossing the line in fifth place.
The result has moved him up to 13th in the V8 Supercars Championship – the best of the Nissan Motorsport quartet.
After a strong run, Caruso's Norton teammate James Moffat had a difficult day.
Moffat qualified down in 19th place – well off his potential – and eventually finished 16th.
The next event of the V8 Supercars Championship will be held at Perth's Barbagallo Raceway on May 16-18.
Michael Caruso, #36 Norton Nissan Altima:
"It's a credit to the Nissan Motorsport crew for this result," said Michael Caruso.
"We had some mechanical problems on Friday and Saturday. We fixed those up, qualified in seventh today and moved up a couple of spots at the end.
"Today's race was worth a lot more points, so we really needed this result to bounce back after a couple of tough rounds.
"Again, the boys here did a fantastic job today. They solved the problems we had early and I'm really proud of them.
"Barbagallo Raceway is next on the calendar, and that's a circuit where you really know if you have a good car or not. I think we'll come away from there with a good understanding of our true speed relative to others.
"We've also got a test coming up after Barbagallo, so that will be perfect timing. We've got some ideas on what we want to do, but we're just holding them until that test."
James Moffat, #360 Norton Nissan Altima
"That's the sort of result you get when you don't qualify well," said James Moffat.
"We didn't chase the set-up hard enough in qualifying and we paid the price. All of the other Nissans qualified inside the top 10, and that was very disappointing.
"Our pace in the race was good. We trucked along and picked up a couple of spots, but the result just wasn't good enough.
"We'll pick up the pieces and try our best at Barbagallo."
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