Bryan Kelly isn’t just any run-of-the-mill Riverhead Raceway veteran. In fact, he’s the one known as “Blackjack.”
“Points are the most important thing to most racers,” Kelly, 35, said, “so they don’t miss many races.
“They’ll miss a wedding if they have to be at the track Saturday night. I miss two or three races a year and usually end up at a casino one way or another.”
Asked about creating his own good fortune in 2017, Kelly conversely referred to it as “really more late success” resulting after nine years on the racetrack, including six competing in the INEX Legend Race Car class.
“We were really fast last year with things coming together,” Kelly said. “We just had no luck when it came to getting first place.”
This year has played out to a far different tune.
Kelly has won three out of five races in the newly formed Mini Stock class – part of the Enduro racing shows – and is currently first in the point standings with 302 as he pursues his first career championship. Helly maintains a 29-point advantage over second-place holder Mike Mujsce Jr following his victory on June 10.
“The Legend division is so tight. The level of racing and competition is wheel-to-wheel every night with 20-30 competitors. Being able to apply that to the Mini Stock division has really made us successful there.”
Though the Mini Stock class initially presented a new challenge, Kelly remains enthused by the unique opportunities the sport provides.
“Every Saturday night is a new challenge,” Kelly said. “But as soon as we had word that there was going to be this new division, we wanted to be a part of it. We were hoping to have success, but didn’t know we’d be this great. So everything has been wonderful.”
Despite his good run, Kelly recalled a significant adjustment period.
“The first two races we were way off,” Kelly said. “We did not have the setup right. We had what we call ‘gremlins’ and were trying to shake things out with the new car.”
Kelly has also made considerable noise in the familiar Legend class, capturing two victories thus far to begin the 2017 season. He currently sits fifth in points at 105, trailing leader John Beatty’s 159-point total.
“Honestly, you always see a racecar driver, one guy in victory lane who won. But it’s really a team effort. I have about three guys on a regular basis helping in the garage. My wife is also a huge part of it.”
As far as his “Blackjack” moniker goes, Kelly and his team hope to continue creating their good fortune at Riverhead Saturday night in the upcoming Legend race.
“We’re really looking to hopefully finish in the top five, top three,” Kelly said. “And if things play out a little bit better maybe take down another win.”