Atlanta: Jason Keller race report

Dedication and Persistence Pays Off at Atlanta, CJM Racing Finishes 14th (March 8, 2008) Hampton, Ga. -- It looked like the odds were stacked against the 43-cars looking to race in Saturday's Nicorette 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The weather...

Dedication and Persistence Pays Off at Atlanta, CJM Racing Finishes 14th

(March 8, 2008) Hampton, Ga. -- It looked like the odds were stacked against the 43-cars looking to race in Saturday's Nicorette 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The weather report called for snow and it did just that. Temperatures dropped to the low 30's and snow flurries fell causing a "white out" at one point. Qualifying was cancelled not too long after and the snow moved out of the area. Keller gladly jumped behind the wheel of the No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevrolet at the 2:00 hour and drove the CJM Racing machine to the team's second top-15 finish of the season.

The No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevrolet had a new look as the team unloaded Thursday afternoon for technical inspection. The red and yellow machine driven by Jason Keller was a head turner and people began to pay a little more attention to the single car team owned by Tony and Bryan Mullet.

"It's nice to go to a track with paint on the car. It let's people know we are serious about our place in this series. We are still working hard to secure a full-time deal and we're heading in the right direction," remarked Keller.

With a weather system wreaking havoc on race activities Friday morning, the Nationwide Series was only able to get out on the track once for an hour and fifty-five minute practice session. Aggressive changes were made throughout that time due to a loose handling race car and Keller posted the 28th quickest time at 32.105 seconds.

Mother Nature again played a role in Saturday morning's activities as snow fell on the mile-and-a-half facility. The bitter cold weather would cause NASCAR to cancel qualifying and have the line-up set by owner points, placing Keller 31st.

As the field went green it was obvious that the No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company machine was still battling with a handling issue. Keller reported in numerous times that the race car was difficult getting into the corner and was sliding the nose.

Crew chief Todd Gordon didn't waste anytime trying to alleviate the handling woes and called Keller to pit road when the first caution flag flew on lap 12. The crew continued to make aggressive changes with a track bar and wedge adjustment. Keller restarted in the 31st position and after a few laps reported in that the changes did not help the America's Incredible Pizza Company machine.

The handling set the tone for the remainder of the race but the team never gave up. Over the course of 195 laps, Jason Keller and the CJM Racing team came back from going a lap down twice and pitted a total of seven times to try and rectify the ill-handling race car.

A combination of the team's determination, good calls on pit stops and Jason Keller's driving ability; the America's Incredible Pizza Company racing team was able to stay out of harms way for the entire 300-mile event and finish out the day on the lead lap in the 14th position.

"As Jamie Little mentioned on TV, we are the team that could. As a stand alone Nationwide Series team we have to work harder to get the same results as these bigger teams. We don't have people to share data with or as many resources as teams like Roush-Fenway but these guys give it their heart and soul and it shows ever week. The handling caused a lot of problems today but no one gave up and we were able to get another top-15 finish," stated Keller.

-credit: cjmr

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Jason Keller , Jamie Little