BUSCH: Darlington II: Jason Keller preview

Sweet Home South Carolina -- Jason Keller is one of the few current NASCAR drivers born in South Carolina. Not since Larry Pearson of Spartanburg in 1989, has a South Carolina native run in any of NASCAR's top three racing series -- and...

Sweet Home South Carolina -- Jason Keller is one of the few current NASCAR drivers born in South Carolina. Not since Larry Pearson of Spartanburg in 1989, has a South Carolina native run in any of NASCAR's top three racing series -- and Darlington Raceway is only a stone's throw from the local go-kart and dirt tracks where Keller did his early racing. This historic track holds a special place in Keller's heart, making it a place where a victory would be sweeter and a good performance in front of his hometown crowd is essential. The series veteran has three top-five and six top-10 finishes here in his last seven starts; including a second place finish here in 2002 after starting from the outside pole.

'Too Tough To Tame?' -- Darlington Raceway is one of the most talked about race tracks on the circuit due to its familiar "Darlington stripe." Last year, Keller found this stripe twice, once in Qualifying and again in Happy Hour as he bounced off of the wall in Turn Four. So, how difficult will it be this year to keep that famous white strip off the side of the car with the new safety measures put into place? "The layout of Darlington makes this track unique because of the way you have to drive into each corner differently," Keller said. "I hit the wall twice here last year, so now that the SAFER barriers are in place, it's going to be even more of a challenge to get through the corners."

Sponsorship Update--Keller will enter Saturday's race with an all-white car for the Bi-Lo 200 this weekend. His ppc Racing team will run without a primary sponsor on the hood of their No. 22 Ford Taurus for the last time this season. The team's primary sponsor for 17 races, Miller High Life, will return to the hood of Keller's car next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Although High Life won't be returning to the team for the 2005 season; the company plans to move their sponsorship duties to RWI Racing, where it will sponsor the No. 64 Miller High Life Dodge driven by Jeremy Mayfield. ppc is currently searching for a full-time sponsor for its Busch program in 2005.

The Car--Keller and his ppc Racing team will be bringing car No. 57-19 to the track this weekend in Darlington. This is the same car that Keller drove to a 12th and 13th place finish at both Dover races and an eighth place finish at the spring event in Vegas.

Quotes:

Keller on performing in front of his hometown crowd --"It's really special to race here at Darlington. There are a lot of hometown people that don't get to see me race all over the country, so to come here and know that they are in the stands supporting me, makes this place really special to me. There are no other South Carolina drivers in the field for this race, so it puts a lot of pressure on me to perform well and carry the home state banner proudly."

Keller on his plans for 2005-- "There has been a lot of activity in the past couple of weeks regarding where I'm going to end up next year. I've been talking to several different teams, but nothing has been put into place yet. I'd like to stay in the Busch Series but I haven't ruled out the Truck Series yet either. Hopefully I can get something worked out with a Ford team for next year."

Keller on veteran drivers vs. the "young guns"--"The direction of the Series is definitely heading into a driver development stage for these young drivers. It can be frustrating in a lot of ways, but I just have to put myself in the best situation possible and remain positive. There are some really good opportunities out there; it's just taking awhile for everything to pan out and everyone to shuffle around."

-ppcr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Jeremy Mayfield , Jason Keller