BUSCH: Charlotte II: Jason Keller preview

Jason Keller and the Albertsons Team keep title hopes alive. CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- Jason Keller and the Albertsons team have remained focused on the goals they set for themselves at the beginning of the season... winning races. While they have ...

Jason Keller and the Albertsons Team keep title hopes alive.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- Jason Keller and the Albertsons team have remained focused on the goals they set for themselves at the beginning of the season... winning races. While they have tried not to get caught up in the frenzy that surrounds contending for the NASCAR Busch Series championship, they find themselves in a two-way battle with just six races to go.

Following a disappointing finish at Kansas, the team loaded up two cars and headed to Lowe's Motor Speedway to test on the Tuesday and Wednesday immediately following the race. Keller considers the two days on track the team's best test session ever.

"We had an amazing test session at Charlotte," said Keller. "It was scary how well everything went, especially on the first day. We took two cars with us. The car that ran well at Charlotte in the spring and the car we ran at Dover. The car we ran in the spring wasn't near as fast as the Dover car and package. I am cautiously optimistic and excited about this race.

"The team and I have improved tremendously at Charlotte. I used to dread going to the track because we never had a good handle on it. We've run pretty well in the past four races at Charlotte. If we didn't have the overheating problem in the spring, I'm confident we would have had a least a top-five finish."

Focused on the big picture and the upcoming six races, the Albertsons team is testing at Atlanta this week in preparation for the October 25th race. Keller's best finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway came in March of 2001 where he finished seventh.

"I think it's a fair assessment to say Atlanta isn't my best track," said Keller. "We've never had a great set up for there. ppc Racing has three teams testing with computer data recorders on each car and engineers to sort out that data. This allows each driver and team to try similar things and overlap the data to figure out what package works best. When we go back in a couple of weeks, we should have figured out a thing or two about the track."

The Albertsons team is holding tight to their championship hopes. The No. 57 team knows that they cannot make any mistakes between Charlotte and Homestead if they intend to win a second championship for ppc Racing.

"It's doesn't do us any good to think about the championship now when it's really out of our hands," said Keller. "Before Kansas we could race head-to-head with Biffle and his team and know whoever ran the best would win the championship. Now, we have to continue to run well, but wait for him to make a mistake. If we win every race for the rest of the season and Biffle finished fifth in every race, he still comes out on top.

"We know that we have done the best that we can all season, and we will continue to do that and let the cards fall where they may. I've been in the Busch Series long enough to know anything can happen. Look at what one race did in the Winston Cup points standings last weekend. Biffle and I have seen the tides change enough this year to know the points race is far from over."

Keller has already captured four wins and 16 top-five finishes this season, both career bests. Keller and Albertsons team know this has been their most successful year, regardless of the championship outcome.

Jason Keller Lowe's Motor Speedway Notes:

* Jason Keller and the Albertsons Racing team tested for two days at Lowe's Motor Speedway on October 1st and 2nd. Keller will drive the same Albertsons Ford that he tested at LMS and most recently raced at Dover International Speedway.

* Keller is looking to earn his 10th consecutive top-five starting spot this weekend at Charlotte. Keller's sixth-place qualifying average is the best of any full-time NASCAR Busch Series driver this year.

* Keller finished second in the fall race at Charlotte last year, a career best. In 19 starts, Keller has two top-five finishes and six top 10s at the 1.5-mile speedway.

Jason Keller Quotes:

Lowe's Motor Speedway... Keller and the Albertsons team are looking forward to the final six races of the season, starting with Charlotte. Charlotte used to be a thorn in Keller's side, but he has run well there in the last four races.

"This track is so tough," said Keller. "It is the one track that seems extremely temperature sensitive. When we tested here the temperature was in the mid to upper 80s, but the forecast for this weekend says it will be in the 70s. It's hard to say what effect it will have on the car, but I think we learned enough to compensate for any changes.

"We ran really well here in the spring and almost came out with a top-10 finish despite our overheating problem. We've rectified the problem we had with the radiator, so I am pretty optimistic about the race."

Primary Sponsor Albertsons:
Albertsons Donation To Aid Disaster Relief Efforts In Louisiana... In an effort to aid southern Louisiana communities left to pick up the pieces in the wake of Hurricane Lili, Albertsons donated three truckloads of key products for those in need including ice, bottled water and snack foods. Additionally, Coinstar machines in all Albertsons stores are set up to accept donations for the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. Albertsons owns and operates 31 stores in Louisiana, employing approximately 3,000 Louisiana-area residents.


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Drivers Jason Keller