O’Connell comments on
Great Race, NASCAR plans
Photo by NASCAR via Getty Images
Kevin O'Connell (right) comes down the frontstretch behind Alex Tagliani at Road America on the white flag lap in last year's Xfinity Series race. O'Connell finished third.
ALBUQUERQUE, New Mex.—Wednesday provided the chance for the city of Albuquerque and the Unser Racing Museum to be a scheduled pit stop for the Hemmings Motor News Great Race. The field, featuring teams competing in a controlled-speed endurance race, includes past Great Race winners and competitors.
But among the first-time competitors in the 2015 field is NASCAR driver Kevin O’Connell. O’Connell, along with his father Gus, teamed up to compete in a 1966 Ford Mustang in the field made up of 117 entries.
O’Connell described the patience involved with the nine day race spanning eight states.
“It reminds me of the last time I played golf,” O’Connell said to The Racing Experts. “It’s really different from the kind of racing we’ve been doing. Very humbling, very technical, but it gives me a chance to do something with my dad and my uncles.
“Every segment, we get better and better, we’re learning this thing. We’re true rookies.”
The O’Connell’s are ranked 72nd overall after the fifth leg of the race.
O’Connell, 47, will also be returning to NASCAR competition this season.
O’Connell has competed in one race this season in both the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series and Mexico Series. He expects to return to both, as well as three other series within the sport.
Photo by Franklin Romero / TheRacingExperts.com
Kevin O'Connell poses for a photo during a pit stop for The Great Race at the Unser Racing Museum in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
“We are going to run Watkins Glen in both the K&N East Series and in the Xfinity Series,” O’Connell said. “Then, we’re going to skip the next two road course races and we’re going to go run Mosport—NASCAR Canada and [Camping World] Truck Series that same weekend.”
O’Connell has never made a start in the Camping World Truck Series, but has raced six events, all on road courses, in the Xfinity Series. Arguably, the driver’s most notable run in the Xfinity Series came last June at Road America.
Running the No. 23 Chevrolet for Rick Ware Racing, O’Connell stayed out of trouble, ran as high as second place on the last lap, and collected a third place effort in his fifth career start in the series. The finish remains the best finish to date for RWR.
Sponsorship and car numbers have yet to be officially announced for O’Connell’s Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series rides, but he mentioned who he will be teaming up with.
“It’s going to be a combination of Rick Ware Racing, who I was with last year, and two other teams, probably doing some stuff with Pro Motor,” he said.