Richmond: Jason Keller race report

Troublesome Night for CJM Racing at Richmond, Finish 19th (May 2, 2008) Richmond, Va. -- CJM Racing looks forward to heading over to Richmond, VA. every season. It's a track Keller has grown to love and has accumulated 26 starts at the...

Troublesome Night for CJM Racing at Richmond, Finish 19th

(May 2, 2008) Richmond, Va. -- CJM Racing looks forward to heading over to Richmond, VA. every season. It's a track Keller has grown to love and has accumulated 26 starts at the ¾-mile facility and it's a track that CJM Racing garnered one of their top-10 finishes at last year. What started out as a promising night slowly turned into a bad situation. The No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevrolet fell a lap down to the leaders on lap 139 and was never able to gain the momentum back to put the No. 11 machine in contention for a top-10 finish.

Just two months prior to the Lipton Tea 250, CJM Racing and Keller headed north to Richmond for a two-day test session. The test session proved to be a success as the No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevy posted speeds in the top-10 and the third quickest time in the final afternoon session. The team came back to Richmond with the same car and the hopes of securing their first top-10 of the season.

The teams came into the track early Friday morning for an all-day marathon. The first and only practice session was held first thing and the America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevy posted the 23rd quickest practice time at 22.009 seconds, 122.677 mph. Later that day, Keller qualified the No. 11 machine in the 15th position with a time of 21.832 seconds, 123.672 mph.

As night closed in on the race track, Keller and 42 other drives climbed into the race cars to begin a 250-lap shootout.

Keller took some time to find the right groove and maintained track position within the first quarter of the race. On lap 43 he reported in, "I'm way too tight." Still up in the top-15 Keller and crew chief Todd Gordon opted to keep him out on the track and make a pit stop 25 laps later for four tires, fuel, a track bar and air pressure adjustment. Unfortunately, the very first pit stop of the evening set the tone for the remainder of the night. The jack was not high enough to get the left rear tire off causing the team to spend some added time on pit road. The mistake cost the team six positions out on track and the No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevrolet restarted the race in the 20th position.

As the laps continued, a problem with rear grip presented itself. Keller did his best to hold strong in the 17th position when the leaders caught up to him and placed the No. 11 on lap down with 111 laps to go.

The crew would make two more pit stops throughout the evening. The next stop fell on lap 143 for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. The final pit stop of the day took place on lap 230 for four tires, a can of Sunoco fuel and an aggressive change to the track bar and air pressure to help with rear grip.

The No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company was never able to get back on the lead lap but the team did their best with the situation at hand. The determination never faltered and at the end of the evening, Keller and the No. 1 machine crossed the start/finish line in the 19th position.

"Track position is key at Richmond and due to some unforeseen circumstances we were never able to get the position we needed. It's a little disappointing because I know how strong we are at a track like this but we'll take what we have learned and move forward. Our luck has got to start changing here sometime soon," Keller remarked.

-credit: cjm

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Jason Keller