Nashville II: Jason Keller race report

CJM Racing Overcomes Obstacles to Finish 15th at Nashville (June 7, 2008) Lebanon, Tenn. -- Country music and NASCAR racing came together this weekend at Nashville and veteran driver Jason Keller was a part of it all. The week started out...

CJM Racing Overcomes Obstacles to Finish 15th at Nashville

(June 7, 2008) Lebanon, Tenn. -- Country music and NASCAR racing came together this weekend at Nashville and veteran driver Jason Keller was a part of it all. The week started out with appearances at the CMA Fan Fest and ended with on-track action at Nashville Superspeedway. The on-track action heated up fast as Keller overcame a spin early in the race and going a lap down to finish out the evening on the lead lap in the 15th position.

The No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevrolet was fast right from the start. Using notes from last year's sixth place finish the crew was confident they had found the right set-up for Saturday evening's race. The No. 11 posted the fifth quickest time in Friday's first practice session with a time of 30.531 seconds, 157.178 mph. Final practice soon followed and the America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevy posted the 13th quickest time with a 30.477 second run, 157.456 mph.

As the crews entered the track Saturday morning, the temperatures soared into the 90's. The mid-afternoon qualifying session was hot and affected the handling of the No. 11 machine. With an extremely loose race car, Keller went on to place the America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevy in the 25th position for the race later that evening.

"It's tough when you qualify during the day but race at night. The car was on the free side in preparation for the race later that day. We wanted it loose because the car will tighten up as you run more laps and boy was it ever when we qualified," explained Keller.

Optimistic that the handling would resolve itself as the green flag dropped, the No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company race team settled in for 225 laps of nonstop action at Nashville Superspeedway.

That optimism soon turned to dismay as the first caution flag of the evening was due to Keller spinning out in turn two just nine laps into the race.

"I'm so loose I can't hang on to it," Keller exclaimed.

The America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevy was brought down pit road for immediate service and received four tires, fuel, a track bar and wedge adjustment. Keller restarted in the 32nd position still on the lead lap and with no damage to the race car.

As the laps continued a concern over rear grip presented itself but Keller was able to charge to the front and break into the top-five by lap 64 as green flag pit stops began to cycle through.

The No. 11 visited pit road again on lap 69 for fresh tires, fuel, another track bar and air pressure adjustment to help with rear grip. As the cars cycled through, the No. 11 was displayed one lap down in the 21st position on lap 75. Determined to get his lap back, Keller charged forward and received the "Lucky Dog Award" when the caution flag flew again on lap 83.

Six more pit stops occurred throughout the evening in hopes of finding that competitive edge over the other cars out on track and alleviating a tight handling race car. Changes ranged from air pressure to wedge to track bar. The adjustments proved beneficial but unfortunately Keller was never able to gain the momentum needed to break into the top-10 at the end of the night. The No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevrolet found itself in the 15th position as the checkered flag flew on the final lap.

"This evening didn't start out so good for the America's Incredible Pizza Company race team but we got things turned around and made the best out of the situation," Keller remarked.

The solid finish moved Keller back up to the 11th position in the driver point standings. The team is anxious to head to Kentucky Speedway next Saturday where they hope to garner another top-10 finish this season and move Keller up another position in the standings.

-credit: cjm

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Jason Keller