Record Breaking Weekend for Jason Keller and the No. 11 Sweet Baby Ray's Team (October 12, 2007) Concord, NC -- There was no doubt that the pressure was on for the No. 11 Sweet Baby Ray's team heading into Lowe's Motor Speedway. In order for...
Record Breaking Weekend for Jason Keller and the No. 11 Sweet Baby Ray's Team
(October 12, 2007) Concord, NC -- There was no doubt that the pressure was on for the No. 11 Sweet Baby Ray's team heading into Lowe's Motor Speedway. In order for Jason Keller to become the all-time start leader in the NASCAR Busch Series, the fledgling team would have to qualify on time for Friday evening's race under the lights. With a 36th place starting position secured the team would battle a severe handling condition and later was knocked out of the race due to an accident involving some of the front runners resulting in a 34th place finish.
The media hype that surrounded the milestone week almost made some people forget that the team actually still needed to qualify and make the 43-car field for the Dollar General 300. With that said, CJM Racing worked feverishly during the two practice sessions to help secure Jason Keller's place in the record books.
"We brought a brand new race car to the track and we knew we would have a few issues to work out. For some reason we just couldn't get the balance of the race car right and struggled to find a happy medium," explained Keller.
Adding to the anticipation, the No. 11 Sweet Baby Ray's team drew the 46th qualifying spot. The team would have to patiently wait as all the cars took to the field before determining their spot in history. Keller took his two laps on the mile and a half track and placed the No. 11 machine in the 36th position.
"It's not exactly what we were looking for but we'll take it," Keller remarked.
As the field set to go green, all the media hype subsided and the team focused on getting the No. 11 machine to the front.
Within laps it was apparent that the handling woe's still plagued the No. 11 Sweet Baby Ray's Chevy. On lap seven Keller reported in, "I am really loose on entry" and by lap 25 the No. 11 machine would fall victim to the leaders placing him one lap down.
When the caution flag fell again on lap 27, crew chief Todd Gordon called Keller to the pits for some aggressive changes. The crew quickly went to work and changed out four tires, added fuel with adjustments to the track bar and wedge. The Sweet Baby Ray's Chevy restarted in the 37th position.
Unfortunately the aggressive adjustments provided little relief to the handling and Jason continued to hold strong and gain any track position available to them.
Several more pit stops were made throughout the evening (laps 87, 97, 108, and 129) for minor to major adjustments. Running two laps down to the leaders, the determined team never gave up and the handling slowly started to turn around by the mid-way point. Keller reported in, "The car is finally starting to settle down but I am still having some problems getting in the corners."
The disappointment would continue that evening. As Keller was heading down the backstretch on lap 133 an accident broke loose in front of him. With no place to go, the No. 11 Sweet Baby Ray's Chevy received major damage and was hauled back to the garage area. The damage to the race car was too severe to fix so the No. 11 team called it a night and loaded up to head back home.
"Of course we're disappointed. We had hoped to put on a better show. I'm looking forward to moving on to start number 419," Keller stated.
-credit: cjm racing