Team backs Owen Kelly to star in Sprint Cup debut

Kyle Busch leads on the field at Watkins Glen in 2012

Kyle Busch leads on the field at Watkins Glen in 2012

Phoenix Racing engineer Andrew Dickeson is adamant that his compatriot Owen Kelly can stun the NASCAR Sprint Cup establishment at Watkins Glen this weekend.

A V8 Supercars endurance co-driver with two starts in NASCAR’s second tier Nationwide Series to his name, Kelly is making his debut in stock car racing’s big league at the famous road course in New York state.

Noted as the smallest team in NASCAR, Phoenix Racing which is based in Spartanburg, South Carolina, has hired Kelly for a one-off drive ahead of a change of ownership that will take effect early next month.

The deal reunited Kelly with Phoenix engineer Dickeson, who was working for Terry Wyhoon’s V8 Supercars Development Series team with which Kelly won a rain-hit Oran Park round in 2007.

“This race can be won in many different ways and I’m saying we can win this race,” Dickeson told of Watkins Glen.

Dickeson (right) with #51 crew chief Nick Harrison

Dickeson (right) with #51 crew chief Nick Harrison

“If you are fast and you are in the ballpark and you have the right strategy …

“There is no doubt in my mind it’s just a matter of piecing it all together. I think I would have to take the next few weeks off it we win this. ”

Kelly joins fellow Tasmanian Marcos Ambrose on the NASCAR grid this weekend as the eighth Australian to start in the top stock car class.

It is a moment which is not lost on Dickeson, who says he’s honoured to be part of such a landmark representation of Australian drivers.

“It’s a big weekend for the Australian racing industry as a whole. It’s very exciting,” Dickeson said.

“I’m pretty proud to be a part of it and it’s just funny how our paths have crossed again.

“It’s been six years since we last raced together and I’m looking forward to the whole deal.”

Ambrose is the two-time reigning winner of the Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen.

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