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Australian Owen Kelly tabbed for No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing car at Mid-Ohio

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course - Day 2

LEXINGTON, OHIO - AUGUST 16: Owen Kelly, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, stands in the garage area during practice for the Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 16, 2013 in Lexington, Ohio. (Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)

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Owen Kelly will make his first NASCAR start since 2013 this weekend when he drives Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Xfinity car Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The 39-year-old is a veteran of the Australia Supercar Series but has four NASCAR starts. He made a Sprint Cup start in 2013 and three Xfinity starts during 2010 and ’13.

The No. 18 car enters the weekend in first place in the Xfinity owner’s standings with a 33-point lead.

Kelly is driving the car as Matt Tifft continues to recover from recent brain surgery to remove a low-grade tumor.

“This is a great opportunity; I’d prefer it to be under different circumstances in regard to Matt’s health, but the good news is that he is on the mend, so I’m happy to help out the (No.) 18 team, and I look forward to working with (crew chief) Chris Gayle also,” Kelly said in a statement from the team.

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