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Kevin O’Connell Returns To XFINITY Series Competition at Watkins Glen

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Kevin O’Connell, Zippo 200

Kevin O’Connell Returns To XFINITY Series Competition at Watkins Glen

Chris Knight
Knight Motorsports Management
Rick Ware Racing
August 5, 2015

Kevin O’Connell
WATKINS GLEN, New York – It’s been about a year since Kevin O’Connell has competed on the NASCAR XFINITY Series tour, but his recent international NASCAR racing events will take a back seat to Saturday’s Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.

The Newport Beach, California native has reunited with Rick Ware Racing (RWR) in a joint effort with Motorsports Business Management (MBM) for the first of select XFINITY Series schedule races this season and will wheel the No. 13 Gemini Southern Dodge in the first of three road-course races this season.

On the heels of a career and impressive third place finish at Road America (Wisc.) last June (2014), O’Connell headed to Watkins Glen hoping for an opportunity to duplicate.

However, an early race incident last August forced an early exit from competition and left O’Connell and his team with a disappointing finish.

Fast forward 12 months later, O’Connell is not only focused on redemption, but the opportunity to impress once again.

“2014 is in the history books; the good and the bad, and 2015 is what matters today for me as a driver, Rick as a team owner and our sponsor partners, stated O’Connell.”

While O’Connell realizes there’s a night and day difference between Watkins Glen and Road America, the Glen has its own unique history and character.

O’Connell, the first American to race in all of NASCAR’s international series (Europe, Canada and Mexico) is an accomplished road racer with prior experience in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Series.

His passion for road racing carried him to the XFINITY Series where he made his debut in 2008 at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City, Mexico. Since then, he has competed in five other XFINITY races from 2010-2014. He’ll make his second NASCAR start in Finger Lakes country Saturday.

“I have a busy off track schedule, but I look forward to the opportunities to compete in the XFINITY Series,” added O’Connell. “NASCAR is the best-managed motorsports business existing today and we want to continue to be a part of it on many levels.”

With the weather forecast calling for a chance of rain showers on Saturday, O’Connell realizes that NASCAR could once again bring out the rain tires, which partially contributed to his success at Road America last year.

“We’ll be prepared for the weather either way, but racing in the rain definitely presents challenges, but sometimes those challenges have proved to work to our advantage. If it rains this year, I would just like to have a wiper that works and a few windshield tear-offs and I will handle the rest. There is never a dull moment in when the rain hits.”

Rick Ware, team principal at Rick Ware Racing believes O’Connell and his road course ringer ability has a shot to put their team in the spotlight.

“Kevin is a great person and a diligent road course racer,” he said. “We’ve worked hard over the past couple of weeks making sure the car is up to his expectations and we can roll off and be competitive right off the hauler. Watkins Glen always tends to be a track about speed, so with Kevin’s finesse behind the wheel, I think we’ll be in great hands.”

The Zippo 200 (82 laps / 200.9 miles) is the 19th of 33 events on the 2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series schedule. The first practice session of the weekend begins on Friday, August 7 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:25 p.m. Round two is set for later in the afternoon from 3:30 p.m. – 4:25 p.m. Qualifying is set for race day, Saturday, August 8 scheduled to lift off at 11:15 a.m. The 40-car field will take the green flag shortly after 3:00 p.m. with live coverage on NBC Sports Network, the Motor Racing Network (Radio) and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Satellite Radio, Channel 90).

Rick Ware Racing is on Twitter. Follow them @RickWareRacing.

PHOTO CAPTION: Kevin O’Connell, driver of the No. 13 Gemini Southern Dodge for Rick Ware Racing and Motorsports Business Management in the NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS). Photo Credit: Jason Smith / Getty Images.


Lisa Ware, Rick Ware Racing

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