Returning Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport driver Aaren Russell says securing a drive at the inaugural Coates Hire Newcastle 500 was a crucial part of his new deal with the team.
Russell has been signed by LDM as a last minute replacement for Cameron McConville this weekend in Townsville in a deal that will also see on the grid at Bathurst and Newcastle.
Plus Fitness owner John Fuller said earlier today that he hopes the three-event agreement can be extended to the full season, pending further negotiations.
The former Erebus racer remains based in the New South Wales city of Newcastle where he and his family operate a karting bussines.
“Newcastle is a massive race we want to do,” Russell told Supercars.com.
“It had to be part of the deal. It’s going to be such a massive race and being a Novocastrian I wanted to do it so bad, having a Plus Fitness car around Newcastle in front of the home fans.
“I’ll be honest, I didn’t know much about what was going on (when the deal took place yesterday). I’ve been pretty busy with all our kart centres over the school holidays.
“I left everything motorsport up to Dad and John (Fuller) and Nigel (Miller) from Plus Fitness.
“I was literally working on of the kart centres yesterday with the tiler and got the call around 4:30pm saying ‘head to Townsville, you’re driving a Supercar’.”
Russell drove at February's pre-season test
While he last drove a Supercar for LDM at the Sydney Motorsport Park pre-season test, Russell says familiarity with the team will help as he returns to the category.
Russell drove all three Pirtek Enduro Cup events with LDM last year after his full-time Erebus drive fell apart mid-season.
“I’ve already seen most of the guys and girls at the airport so there’s a lot of familiar faces which makes it easier,” he said.
“It’ll be a lot more comfortable to roll in and I already know three quarters of the personnel.
“We just needed to reassess where we were and it’s probably good to get away from it all for six months.
“Last year was a tough year and it was good to reset as such. Sometimes the worlds align like they have now and all of a sudden you end up with a drive very quickly.
“I’m a bit lost for words at the moment”
The 25-year-old says familiarity with the Townsville track will be critical for helping him get back up to speed.
“I’ve been at this track a lot of years now and hopefully we can be competitive to what we have under us and I can also help Alex (Rullo) move along and develop him as well,” he said.
“I just want to get out there, do a good job and finish. It’s been six months since I’ve driven the car so I’ll have to blow out a few cobwebs, so I’ll try and finish and finish as high as I can.”