Rick Kelly Scores a Fifth Place for Nissan in the Top End

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  • Best V8 Supercars Championship race result yet for Nissan as Rick Kelly finishes in fifth place on Saturday at Hidden Valley Raceway in Darwin, Northern Territory
  • Michael Caruso makes it a double top 10 for Nissan on Saturday with 10th place

DARWIN, Australia - Rick Kelly has created more milestone results for Nissan Motorsport, this time at Hidden Valley Raceway in Darwin, Northern Territory over the weekend.

Kelly earned Nissan Motorsport its first Top 10 Shootout birth on Saturday, qualifying in 10th place before securing seventh place on the grid after his single-lap shootout run aboard the #15 Jack Daniel's Nissan Altima.

Kelly finished fifth in Saturday's 60/60 format race, the first time a Nissan Altima has finished inside the top five in a V8 Supercars Championship race, following James Moffat's fifth place in one of the non-championship races at the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne in March.

Adding to the success for the team on Saturday was a top 10 finish for Michael Caruso in the #36 Norton 360 Nissan Altima. Caruso's finishing position was his best result for the 2013 season.

Sunday's racing proved to be more difficult for the factory Nissan team, though. Lowly qualifying performances, plus a major multi-car accident involving Moffat's #360 Norton 360 Nissan Altima, made for a frustrating day.

Caruso, a former winner at the Hidden Valley circuit, scored the best result for the day with 11th, while Jack Daniel's Racing's Todd Kelly qualified strongly (12th and 13th respectively), but could not convert his fast one lap pace into a top 10 result. A 12th place finish in the first race was the best the former Bathurst 1000 winner could muster.

Rick Kelly salvaged a 12th place in the final race after uncharacteristic poor qualifying performances.

Jamie Whincup, Mark Winterbottom and Craig Lowndes won the three races contested in Darwin over the weekend, with Whincup continuing to lead the championship standings.

The next event on the 2013 V8 Supercars Championship schedule is the Sucrogen Townsville 400 in northern Queensland on July 5-7.

Rick Kelly - #15 Jack Daniel's Nissan Altima:

Race 17 qualifying: 7th
Race 17 result: 5th
Race 18 qualifying: 28th
Race 18 result: 25th
Race 19 qualifying: 25th
Race 19 result: 12th
Championship position: 13th

"It was a very eventful race for everyone on Saturday. We had a little bit of an oil temperature problem in the first half of the race and it hindered us a little bit," said Rick Kelly.

"We let four or five cars go and it was probably for the better when you look at the restart for the second half of the race, because that's exactly where I would have been where the accident was.

"We made up ground from other people's unfortunate circumstances and got to fifth, so my Altima was quite good and we can definitely build on that for tomorrow.

"I'm very happy to finish fifth because there are probably a few cars out there that are a bit quicker than us, so we can make a few changes to get it even better, but it's definitely in the window."

Michael Caruso - #36 Norton 360 Nissan Altima:

Race 17 qualifying: 15th
Race 17 result: 10th
Race 18 qualifying: 22nd
Race 18 result: 21st
Race 19 qualifying: 19th
Race 19 result: 11th
Championship position: 20th

"This weekend has certainly been more good than bad for me," said Michael Caruso.

"The 21st finish in the first race today (Sunday) was disappointing, but we had great speed and as we know at Hidden Valley, if you don't qualify well, it really hurts you trying to come back through the field.

"In the first race, I had good pace on my own, but it's extremely difficult to pass when you get behind someone.

"In the last race, I kept my nose clean at the start, which was almost impossible given the stuff that we saw go on. The team has some work to do to fix James's car, but hopefully we can go to Townsville with some more improvements in the car and continue to progress."

Todd Kelly - #7 Jack Daniel's Nissan Altima:

Race 17 qualifying: 23rd
Race 17 result: 17th
Race 18 qualifying: 12th
Race 18 result: 12th
Race 19 qualifying: 13th
Race 19 result: 20th
Championship position: 26th

"We should have been miles further up the road than all of that 'agro'," said Todd Kelly.

"I lost a few spots in that Safety Car period that put me back, but the car was well and truly faster than the guys in front, but we're just so vulnerable up the straight that I got gobbled up again and moved back even more.

"Where we finished is certainly not representative of what the car could do, so it's a shame we ended up getting unnecessarily taken out."

James Moffat - #360 Norton 360 Nissan Altima:

Race 17 qualifying: 27th
Race 17 result: 15th
Race 18 qualifying: 24th
Race 18 result: 23rd
Race 19 qualifying: 22nd
Race 19 result: DNF
Championship position: 14th

"It's certainly the biggest hit I've had in a V8 Supercar," said Moffat of his Sunday crash.

"It caps off our weekend, really. We haven't been competitive and I feel very sorry for the guys in the team because there's a lot of damage to the car.

"I didn't see what was going on in front. At the start of the race, you're jostling for position anyway, and then all of a sudden the field propped in front of me and I had nowhere to go.

"There's a bit of damage to the #360 Norton 360 Nissan Altima, and the boys have a bit more work to do than what they normally would to turn it around for Townsville.

"That's our first DNF for the season and that was one personal goal that I'd set myself at the start of the year, but that one was out of our control."

2013 V8 Supercars Championship Points Standings after Race 19:

1. Jamie Whincup 1423
2. Craig Lowndes 1264
3. Will Davison 1148
4. Shane van Gisbergen 1127
5. Fabian Coulthard 1108
6. Jason Bright 1101
7. Mark Winterbotton 1079
8. Garth Tander 1062
9. James Courtney 1003
10. Jonathon Webb 996
13. Rick Kelly 791 (#15 Jack Daniel's Nissan Altima)
14. James Moffat 702 (#360 Norton 360 Nissan Altima)
20. Michael Caruso 547 (#36 Norton 360 Nissan Altima)
26. Todd Kelly 415 (#7 Jack Daniel's Nissan Altima)

About Nissan Motor Company
Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Japan's second-largest automotive company, is headquartered in Yokohama, Japan, and is part of the Renault-Nissan Alliance. Operating with more than 267,000 employees globally, Nissan provided customers with more than 4.9 million vehicles and generated revenue of 9.6 trillion yen (USD 116.16 billion) in fiscal 2012. Nissan delivers a comprehensive range of over 60 models under the Nissan and Infiniti brands. In 2010, Nissan introduced the Nissan LEAF, and continues to lead in zero-emission mobility. The LEAF, the first mass-market, pure-electric vehicle launched globally, is now the best-selling EV in history. 

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