Owen Kelly to sub for Kyle Busch at Montreal
V8 Supercars endurance co-driver Owen Kelly will practice and qualify Kyle Busch’s Nationwide Series Toyota in Montreal this weekend as the American attempts the most difficult double-duties task in NASCAR.
Busch will be one of several drivers forced to miss the pre-race sessions in Canada while preparing for the corresponding Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan.
Kelly qualified ninth for Marcos Ambrose at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve last year before watching his driver go on to win the race.
While Ambrose is not competing in the Nationwide race this time, Kelly says that an off-season staff move provided the catalyst for the invitation from KBM.
“It was just one of those deals where all the stars aligned,” explained Kelly.
“Last year Kyle Busch Motorsport’s current crew chief Mike Beam was with the Roush group that Marcos was in, so we worked together in all the debriefs and so on that went on throughout the weekend.
“When Kyle’s team sat down to work out how to tackle Montreal this year, Mike put his hand up and said ‘this is the guy that Ambrose used, and he (Ambrose) ended up winning the race, so why not go with him?’.”
Kelly will arrive in Charlotte, North Carolina on Monday morning (local time) and make a quick visit to the KBM factory before heading to Montreal.
“It’ll all be pretty brief, but I’ve spent most of my career fitting into someone else’s seat so that won’t be a big issue,” he said.
While the plan is for Busch to take over the car for Saturday’s race, the potential pitfalls involved in the logistical challenge of traveling from Michigan to Montreal means that Kelly is preparing himself to complete the weekend.
“There’s certainly a chance that I could race,” he said.
“It’s a really unique situation for the Cup drivers. They’ll take a helicopter ride out of Michigan to a regional airport, a private jet to Montreal and then another helicopter to get them close to the circuit.
“They can’t actually fly into the circuit though because they’re scheduled to arrive at the same time as a pre-race jet flyover is taking place, so they’ve got to get to the track by boat and come up to the back of the pits that way.
“It’s a real trains, planes and automobiles adventure for them, and last year Marcos only made it with 15 minutes to spare!
“There’s a lot of things there that can cause a delay, be it whether or whatever, so you never know.”