This Week in Ford Racing April 20, 2004 NASCAR Busch Series Jason Keller, driver of the No. 22 Ford Taurus, currently sits sixth in the NASCAR Busch Series standings, 109 points out of the lead, heading into this weekend's Aaron's 312 at...
This Week in Ford Racing
April 20, 2004
NASCAR Busch Series
Jason Keller, driver of the No. 22 Ford Taurus, currently sits sixth in the NASCAR Busch Series standings, 109 points out of the lead, heading into this weekend's Aaron's 312 at Talladega Superspeedway. Keller scored his only career superspeedway win at the 2.66-mile track in 2002, a race in which only three cars finished on the lead lap. Keller reflected on that race and spoke about his season to date.
JASON KELLER -22-ppc Racing Ford Taurus
THE PREVIOUS TWO BUSCH SERIES RACES AT TALLADEGA HAVE BEEN MARRED BY EARLY INCIDENTS. WHAT MAKES TALLADEGA DIFFERENT FROM DAYTONA?
"Talladega has a lot of room. It's not an issue of lapped cars or slow cars there, but I think in the past few races at Talladega people haven't raced smart. We were running second when the big accident happened two years ago and it happened from fourth on back. The third- and fourth-place cars bumped and that's what started the chain reaction from fourth on back. We were actually fast enough to be in front of that accident, Stacy Compton and myself. Stacy pulled me right to the front. But, there are so many unknowns going into Talladega for us this year. We're not real sure how the rule package is going to effect us there because we felt like the Fords were hurting a little bit at Daytona."
PPC RACING HAD BEEN A TWO-CAR OPERATION FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS, BUT YOU ARE CURRENTLY THE ONLY BUSCH TEAM OPERATING FROM THE SHOP. HOW HAS THE LACK OF A TEAMMATE AFFECTED YOU?
"We're still working to have a second team and that could be a part-time effort. With the way the sponsorship program fell, I'm glad we didn't try to do a second team just to do a second team. We were able to take some crew from the 57 and we were able to take some crew members off of 10 and put them together to really mix things up a little bit. The 22 team is not a totally new beginning because I'm not expecting an extremely big learning curve. I've worked around all of these guys and I've been here in this sport a long time and all of these guys have been in the sport for a long time, so I don't want to blame it on a learning curve."
THERE WAS A LOT OF UNCERTAINTY FOR YOU AT THE END OF LAST SEASON. HOW DIFFICULT OF A DECISION WAS IT TO STAY WITH PPC RACING GIVEN THE LACK OF SPONSORSHIP LEADING INTO THE SEASON?
"There were several times last year that I wasn't sure where I was going to end up looking at other options I had. Am I glad that I'm back? I'm extremely glad that I'm back with this package. I see so much potential and I see so much good. There were times in November and December that I didn't even know if I was going to be back here. I'm not going to fret over the things that led to the things that happened in November or December, but we're going to take advantage of the opportunities, the sponsorships that we have and go forward. The deal with Miller High Life is for 19 races and we do have some sponsors that will fill in some, but we do have some races that we have to sell. Greg Pollex has committed to me and this entire team that we will be at every race."
WITH THE NUMBER OF CUP DRIVERS COMPETING IN THE BUSCH SERIES ON A LIMITED BASIS, DO YOU FEEL THAT THEY ARE POTENTIALLY TAKING AWAY MONEY THAT COULD GO TO A FULL-TIME TEAM, THUS HURTING THE HEALTH OF THE SERIES?
"It is. We lost an extremely good potential sponsor to a limited Busch deal with a Cup driver towards the end of September. We were up for a really good deal and it went to a limited team with a Cup driver. What I don't want to see happen is if they go with these limited teams, and they get in and get out. We want them to stay in this series for a long time, but that's part of the sport and you have to compete with those guys on and off the track. They have the name recognition and all of the resources to go after those sponsors, and unfortunately we lost one that we really felt like we were close to getting, but we've got something to sell here and we're just trying to show that on the track."