Jason Keller, Force Protection and CJM Racing Make a Statement at Darlington Raceway (May 11, 2007) Darlington, SC. - A little over a month ago CJM Racing began the quest to become a competitive force in the NASCAR Busch Series. That dream...
Jason Keller, Force Protection and CJM Racing Make a Statement at Darlington Raceway
(May 11, 2007) Darlington, SC. - A little over a month ago CJM Racing began the quest to become a competitive force in the NASCAR Busch Series. That dream became reality Friday night as the No. 11 Force Protection Chevrolet, wheeled by veteran driver Jason Keller, finished out the evening in the 14th position.
CJM Racing was set to make their NASCAR Busch Series debut at Dover International Speedway that was until the team and Keller realized the potential for success at Darlington Raceway. Not only is Darlington considered Keller's hometown track, his performance there speaks volumes with nine top-10 finishes and an average finishing position of 16th.
With a new goal in sight, the team worked relentless hours building a brand new race car for the track 'too tough to tame'.
The No. 11 Force Protection Chevrolet saw the track for the very first time Thursday afternoon as two practice sessions got under way. While being conservative and working out all the little quirks that come with a new car, Keller and the CJM Racing team displayed a quick time of 30.601 seconds in the final practice session placing them 19th on the leader board.
Confident in their ability to make the 43-car field, Keller qualified the No. 11 Chevy in the 35th position for start of the Diamond Hill Plywood 200.
With patience and determination, Keller quietly manipulated his way through the field. After 10 laps, the veteran driver reported in a loose handling race car and would pit under caution just 22 laps later with crew chief Todd Gordon calling for a track bar and air pressure adjustments.
Back out on the track, Keller continued to experience the loose condition. The troublesome race car would not hinder his charge to the front though and the No. 11 Force Protection Chevy was running in the 27th position by lap 40.
Pit strategy played a major part in the equation as the laps continued. The leaders opted to stay out on the track as the caution flag flew once again on lap 43. The CJM team took that opportunity to make a few more adjustments with four fresh tires, fuel and a slight air pressure adjustment.
The adjustments proved to be just what the No. 11 machine needed and Keller found himself in the 13th position after the leaders pitted on lap 53. The excitement and determination was evident as the team never faltered for the remaining laps. The Force Protection Monte Carlo never fell below the 17th position for the remainder of the 200-mile event.
"I can't tell you how much it means to have such a great run at Darlington. These guys put their heart and souls into this program. Can you imagine what would of happened if we had had even more time to prepare for this event?" remarked Keller.
At the day's end, the No. 11 Force Protection Chevy crossed the start/finish line in the 14th position.
"I think we have made a bold statement doing what we just did tonight. CJM Racing is here to stay and we're here to run and win some races this year. I'd also like to take a second to thank everyone that is involved in this program and our sponsor Force Protection for joining us on this inaugural event," Keller stated.