BUSCH: Charlotte II: Ford - Keith Barnwell interview

This Week in Ford Racing October 7, 2003 NASCAR Busch Series Scott Riggs and Jason Keller, ppc Racing teammates, are both in the hunt for the NASCAR Busch Series championship as the season reaches the final six races. It should not be a...

This Week in Ford Racing
October 7, 2003

NASCAR Busch Series

Scott Riggs and Jason Keller, ppc Racing teammates, are both in the hunt for the NASCAR Busch Series championship as the season reaches the final six races. It should not be a surprise that ppc Racing has two drivers vying for the title as they have not had a driver finish outside the top 10 in points for the past four years. Riggs is currently second in the point standings, 21 points out of the lead, while Keller is fifth in points, 59 points behind first-place David Green. Keith Barnwell, general manager of ppc Racing and team owner of the No. 57 Albertsons Ford, spoke about the successful Busch Series operation that he along with Greg Pollex have built and the current status of the two-team operation for 2004.

KEITH BARNWELL , General Manager-ppc Racing

WITH TWO TEAMS BATTLING SO CLOSELY FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP, IS IT DIFFICULT TO ALLOCATE THE ASSETS EQUALLY?

"It's not tough from our standpoint, from Greg (Pollex) and my standpoints, because we're going to be completely satisfied and completely ecstatic if one of them wins it, either Scott or Jason. It's flattering that we've got two that could do it. In a perfect world, we'd like to finish first and second, and we don't care who is first and who is second. If the season ended today, we've had a tremendous year, but not necessarily by ppc standards. We have hung around the top but we haven't had a lot of victories. We're used to winning a lot of races, and if we had gotten wins more frequently, we'd be far and gone in this points race already. But, from this point forward, we'll try to get those wins and top-fives and top-10s, and if we can't get a top-10, we're trying to be a top 15."

HAS THERE EVER BEEN A SITUATION IN THE LAST FOUR SEASONS WHERE TEAM ORDERS CAME INTO PLAY?

"None at all. The one thing that is a challenge, and I'm not saying it's a problem because it's not a challenge, but the one that is a challenge is getting both teams focused and headed in the right direction. It's real easy to say that Scott's driving style is different from Jason's. It's also real easy if you're on Scott's team to say what we're doing might not help Jason because of his driving style, and if you're on Jason's team you think what we're doing might not help Scott. The one thing we're always trying to do is make sure that they open up and talk about it and see if it would work. These guys feed off of each other very well. Scott and Jason feed off of each other very well and we just have to keep headed in the right direction. We don't have team orders. We don't have an 'A' team and 'B' team. These guys have the same resources and it's up to them to put it in victory lane. We've got a strong commitment to Albertsons and Nestle as well as Jason and Scott. Every year when we leave for Daytona we want to come home from Homestead with a championship and we haven't strayed for that. We're going all out to win the races and win the championship and we'll see what happens."

BOTH OF YOUR PRIMARY SPONSORS HAVE INDICATED THAT THEY WILL NOT BE BACK NEXT SEASON. HOW DIFFICULT HAS THE SPONSOR SEARCH FOR THE NEXT SEASON BEEN UP TO THIS POINT?

"It has not been fun. We have good proposals out and we are very disappointed that some very good sponsorship deals that have been out there have gone to part-time Winston Cup teams that are fielding a Busch team. We're very disappointed that we don't have something in place today but we're working hard every single day to try to get this taken care of."

WITH THE LACK OF PRIMARY SPONSORS, DOES IT MAKE IT MORE DIFFICULT TO REASSURE THE DRIVERS THAT THEY HAVE A RIDE NEXT YEAR?

"We hear all of the rumors that everybody else does, but we're treating it as if Jason Keller works here and Scott Riggs works here. We are working diligently to try to put together sponsorship packages for the 10 and 57. They are both aware that we don't have anything put together yet and that we're working to get things done. Once again, everybody has to be an adult about it. We can't ask them to sit around and wait on us, and if they decide to take another job, then when we put our sponsorships together we'll have to hire someone else to put in a car."

YOU ARE JASON KELLER'S SPOTTER ON RACE DAY. THERE WAS SOME CONFUSION LAST WEEK AT KANSAS AS TO THE FINISHING ORDER. WHAT DID YOU SEE?

"Jason Keller crossed the line in fifth position. I don't think a lot of people saw that. I don't know what happened except there was a dead spot in the race track that missed Greg Biffle earlier. Early in the race they thought Biffle was a lap down but he wasn't. Then they told us in the truck that there was a dead spot where the transponders come across. I'm guessing he hit that dead spot so he wasn't scored crossing the finish line. Jason Keller crossed the line in fifth position, but Hank Parker passed him coming to the line and they put Jason back to fourth. It was totally bizarre."

FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE ATOP THE SPOTTERS STAND, IS THE NEW RULE IN REGARDS TO NOT RACING BACK TO THE CAUTION ACHIEVING ITS OBJECTIVE WITHOUT TAKING AWAY FROM THE RACING?

"I think it's a good rule that you don't run back to it the start finish line. As an owner you're looking out for the driver's safety as much as they are. I think that the rule should have remained that you run back to the checkered flag because that takes some of the excitement out of it. Now if you've got a car sitting sideways at the start-finish line you can't run back, so the rule is all-inclusive. This past weekend you could have run back to the flag, but that might not always be the case. From a safety standpoint, when Bobby Hamilton crashed the caution should have come out and everyone should have been frozen at that point. I think that's what NASCAR is working towards, and it's going to take some time to get to that point. I think if the rule benefits you, that's great, and if it doesn't, you don't like it. Everybody is going to get a chance to be on both sides of it at some point in time. We are talking drivers' safety and I'm in favor of anything that makes it safer for the driver.

-ford racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Jason Keller , Greg Biffle , David Green , Scott Riggs