TIRE PROBLEM HALTS KELLER'S MOMENTUM IN SEASON OPENER DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 19, 2005) -- The pre-race strategy was going according to form for Jason Keller and the No. 35 McDonald's Ford team. But as Keller was making a move in the NASCAR ...
TIRE PROBLEM HALTS KELLER'S MOMENTUM IN SEASON OPENER
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 19, 2005) -- The pre-race strategy was going according to form for Jason Keller and the No. 35 McDonald's Ford team. But as Keller was making a move in the NASCAR Busch Series opener, his right-front tire went flat, ending any hopes of a strong finish in his maiden race with Team Rensi Motorsports.
For the record, Keller was credited with a 35th-place finish in Saturday's Hershey's TAKE 5 300 at Daytona International Speedway. But the final result was not indicative on how well his McDonald's Ford performed in the 120-lap, 300-mile race.
"I thought the race was playing out like we had planned," said Keller. "The strategy was to hang back early, keep out of trouble and make a move when the race started to settle in."
The strategy was indeed working. Keller started the event 33rd and was riding in 22nd-place when the tire incident occurred on Lap 88.
"Before we cut a tire, I thought we were on our way to an easy top-15 finish or better," said the Greenville, S.C. native.
The tire incident not only caused Keller to drop back to 37th place, but it also put him a lap down.
"We were kind of riding there and catching the pack," Keller explained. "Our times were good all day long. It's one of those things that disappoints you but then again it's one of those things you can't control. Luckily we didn't wreck the car when the tire went down."
Though Keller was disappointed with the result, he had many reasons to feel optimistic about his new team.
"We've come a long way in a couple of months," said Keller. "I can't complain about one thing. The car was driving good and it got better throughout the race. Pat (Smith, crew chief) made some good changes. I was passing cars when the tire went down. But it's over and all you can do is suck it up and go on to the next race. This is a good team."
The next stop for Keller and the McDonald's Busch team will be Saturday (Feb. 26) at California Speedway in Fontana.