Talladega: Jason Keller race report

The No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevy gets Caught up in the "Big One" at Talladega, Finish 21st (April 26, 2008) Talladega, Al. -- Talladega Superspeedway is notorious for its fast pace, bumper-to-bumper, nonstop race action ...

The No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevy gets Caught up in the "Big One" at Talladega, Finish 21st

(April 26, 2008) Talladega, Al. -- Talladega Superspeedway is notorious for its fast pace, bumper-to-bumper, nonstop race action and Saturday's afternoon's Aaron's 312 proved to be just that. The No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevrolet started the afternoon in the back of the pack and quickly climbed into the top-15 when carnage broke loose on lap 72. The accident sent 16 cars, including the No. 11, back to the garage for repairs. After a 14 lap absence from the action, the America's Incredible Pizza Company machine returned and finished out the day in the 21st position.

The NASCAR Nationwide Series headed out to Talladega Superspeedway over the weekend for their second superspeedway event of the season. The crew immediately battled over an issue with speed in the practice sessions but made the most of the situation at hand. Despite a less than stellar posting in practice and qualifying, the No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company knew that it was anyone's race to win when the green flag dropped.

"Unfortunately when you come into a superspeedway event what you unload with is what you have to work with. There is not much tweaking that can be done when it comes to the set-up on these superspeedway cars. It's all about the aerodynamics and the speed. On the positive side, you just never know what is going to happen at these tracks. If you can get some good drafting help and stay out of trouble there is a good chance you'll come out of this place with a top-10 finish and that was the goal," Keller stated.

The No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevrolet started the Aaron's 312 in the 35th position and quickly shuffled into the main pack of cars for the 117 lap shootout.

The team took advantage of the first caution flag of the day and pitted on lap 12 for fuel only. The No. 11 restarted in the 23rd position and continued to shuffle in and out of cars and work through the 43-car field.

Another caution flag on lap 44 enabled the America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevy to come down pit road for two right side tires and fuel. When racing resumed, Keller was posted in the 16th position and in prime position to break into the top-10.

It was on lap 52 that a slight concern fell over the team as Keller reported in, "I have a hard vibration. It's not getting any worse but its there." As luck would have it a caution flag flew just 10 laps later and Keller brought the No. 11 down for four fresh tires and fuel.

Holding strong in the 17th position Keller's charge to the front would be cut short on lap 72. Under green flag conditions, the No. 61 car driven by Kevin Lepage drove up on to the track after a brief pit stop and cut in front of the lead pack. Running at minimum speed, the No. 61 collected 16 cars and would be the cause of the "big one" at Talladega.

After the red flag lifted, Keller was able to drive the America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevrolet back to the garage to access the damage. The crew made some major repairs to the rear end in just 14 laps and was able to get the No. 11 race car back out on track.

Despite an ill handling race car due to the damage, Keller was able to finish out the remaining laps and gain a few valuable positions out on the race track. The No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevrolet crossed the start/finish line in the 21st position and Keller continues to hold his 12th place standing in the driver point standing's.

"You just never know what is going to happen at these superspeedway races. You are constantly aware of what's going on around you and you just hope you pick the right line or the right drafting partner to get you through to the end," remarked Keller. "That wreck was out of our control and we did what we had to do to get back out there and gain some track position. I'm proud of these guys. They worked as a team and we were able to make the most of the situation."

-credit: cmjr

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Jason Keller , Kevin Lepage