BUSCH: Bristol: This Week in Ford Racing

This Week in Ford Racing March 23, 2004 NASCAR Busch Series Jason Keller, driver of the No. 22 Taurus, has three Busch Series poles and one win at Bristol Motor Speedway. His three poles equals the mark for most by a Busch ...

This Week in Ford Racing
March 23, 2004

NASCAR Busch Series

Jason Keller, driver of the No. 22 Taurus, has three Busch Series poles and one win at Bristol Motor Speedway. His three poles equals the mark for most by a Busch Series driver at the .533-mile track, and his win is just one of two spring races won from the pole position. Keller, who currently sits seventh in points, 89 out of the lead, spoke about the start of the season and the upcoming Sharpie Professional 250.

JASON KELLER -No. 22-Miller High Life Taurus

"At those short tracks anything can happen and a lot things do happen. Even if you have a good handling race car a lot of things change and move around, so it's hard because even if you have a perfect handling race car you might not win the race. It's only two hours from home for me. I live down in South Carolina, but the way that the roads are traveled it's only about two hours away, so I have a lot of family and friends there. It's a great place, but I've seen both sides of the fence, though. I've won there, I've sat on three poles, but I've also been running second there and got taken out by a lapped car. I think you go in there with an open mind. Larry McReynolds said it best, 'You better check your feelings outside the door because you're going to get your feelings hurt during that race.' I've seen both sides of it. It's a great day when you win there, but it can be very discouraging when you have a good race car and get taken out."

WITH THE RECENT TALK ABOUT THE SAFER BARRIERS, IS SAFETY AN ISSUE AT BRISTOL WHERE YOU'RE RUNNING AT SPEEDS GREATER THAN 125 MPH? "Every race track we go to we get faster every year, so it's continually getting faster and faster. I think that race track can handle some of the speeds and some of the race tracks can't. I do think that track can handle the high speeds. Because of the high banking you don't get the straight impacts into the wall like you do at some places. That race track can handle the speeds."

HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO KEEP YOUR EMOTIONS UNDER CONTROL AT A TRACK LIKE BRISTOL WHERE THERE TENDS TO BE MORE ON-TRACK INCIDENTS? "It tough, it's extremely tough, because anybody can run over you. You can get run over by a teammate, you can get run over by someone and not be anything of your doing, so you just have to go in there with an open mind. You have to be real aggressive, but you have to be smart as well and be there at the end."

NEXTEL CUP COMPETITORS HAVE WON THE FIRST FOUR BUSCH RACES. ARE YOU READY TO RUN STANDALONE EVENTS GIVEN THE OUTCOME OF THE FIRST FEW RACES? "I'm most definitely looking forward to it. It's kind of this way every year where it seems like these Cup guys starting out the season beating up on us. I think we have the potential to win any given week, but it's nice to go to a place where they maybe don't have quite as much as an advantage."

DO YOU FEEL THAT THERE SHOULD BE A GREATER NUMBER OF BUSCH SERIES STANDALONE EVENTS AT THE START OF THE SEASON TO LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD? "It's something that is discussed a lot. I'd love to see us be the big show every week, but I just don't think that will ever happen. You're always going have the NEXTEL Cup guys be part of the show and a lot of fans come to see them. I don't really have a feel for whether it's good or bad, but it's the way it has always been and I think its part of the way it's always going to be. There's more talk about it this year, especially because we have something so new as this tire. It's showing that it's a lot more obvious that those guys maybe have it figured out and we don't. That's probably the biggest thing, but it's that way every year, so to say do we need to be different, I'm not real sure. We go to Nashville in a couple of weeks, and that will be a standalone event and it will be sold out, so we can stand alone in certain areas, and in certain areas we need some help. We just have to take what it is and try to keep building."

IT THERE A TRICKLE-DOWN EFFECT IN TERMS OF INFORMATION BEING PASSED DOWN FROM NEXTEL CUP TO THE BUSCH SERIES, AND IS THAT WHY THE CUP COMPETITORS HAVE GOTTEN OFF TO BETTER START, ESPECIALLY WITH THE NEW TIRE COMPOUND? "I'm not sure about the trickle-down effect, but they have twice as much time to get it figured out and I think they got it figured out first. I think we're going to have to learn some things on our own. There's going to be hearsay on what some of the Cup teams are doing, but you can't put stock in that until you try it yourself and learn it yourself."

DOES NASCAR NEED TO STEP IN AND ADJUST THE POINTS SYSTEM OR THE DISTRIBUTION OF MONEY TO MAKE IT A GREATER INCENTIVE TO RUN THE FULL SEASON? "They do in a sense because they reward the top guys in the Busch points plan. We're on a couple of plans. Sure, I'd love more money to be a Busch regular, but if you're asking do I realistically think that's going to happen? No, I don't. I think it's going to be looked at it as it is - you've got to compete against those guys. It seems like what happens is that we go off in the summer months, the Busch regulars, and get our act together and when we come back together in the late summer or early fall, it's like they don't have that much of an advantage any more. It's like we've caught up, so it just takes us a little while to catch on to some things because we don't have the technology that they have. We prove year-in and year-out we can do it, but it just takes us a little longer to catch up."

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Drivers Jason Keller