by David Reininger - motorsport.com Dover, DE (June 3, 2000) - Jason Keller scored his fourth career NASCAR Busch Grand National victory today in the MBNA Platinum 200, his first at Dover Downs International Speedway. Keller, whose last victory...
by David Reininger - motorsport.com
Dover, DE (June 3, 2000) - Jason Keller scored his fourth career NASCAR Busch Grand National victory today in the MBNA Platinum 200, his first at Dover Downs International Speedway. Keller, whose last victory came at Indianapolis Raceway Park in August, took the lead from Mark Martin with 42 laps to go.
Martin, who started ninth in the Winn Dixie Ford, experienced carburetor problems early in the race, slipping five spots in the first 15 laps. A series of pit stops during early caution periods moved the No. 60 car to the back of the pack.
"The Winn Dixie team did a great job of fixing the carburetor and we had to play some different strategy there," said Martin. "We had to play with the deck that we were dealt there and we did the best we could with it, but Jason put it on us."
Martin made his last pit stop prior to the mid-point of the race, shuffling the Winn Dixie Ford to the rear once more. During the sixth and final caution period on lap 102, the leaders made their final pit stops. Martin, who was out of pit sequence with the leaders during the entire race, regained track position, taking fourth position for the restart.
When the race resumed, Martin needed only nine laps to take the lead, a position he held for 44 laps.
After sorting out his carburetor problems early in the race, Martin had a strong car for the finish. "It was really good, it was the best it had been all race. I thought we were doing good, but Jason was coming. I couldn't believe it to be honest with you, as fast as he was."
With 43 laps to go, Martin bobbled slightly through turns one and two, allowing Keller to get a run on the Winn Dixie Ford down the backstretch. Keller moved his Excedrin Chevrolet under Martin entering turn three and took the lead.
"I really got fortunate, I kind of caught Mark there in traffic and slipped on by him," said Keller. "I felt like I had to make it when I could make it. He got out there in lapped traffic and I was fortunate to slip by. I saw him wiggle a little bit off (Turn) two and probably got his right rear hot. He went and drove in under a lapped car there and drove in pretty hard and got a little loose."
"I thought he was saving a little bit there and going to make a run on me at the end. I felt that as long as I was clear of lapped traffic, I'd be okay. I thought everything would work out for me because I definitely had the best race car."
With wins at Bristol and Dover, Keller joked about running on concrete tracks. "I wish they'd concrete all these race tracks. I think Bristol and this place have been pretty good to me. Maybe I could talk somebody into that."
"We have a really good setup for the concrete. I like the concrete, it's more of a consistent grip than some of the asphalt race tracks we run on. I just like coming here to Dover. I've run well here in the past. I've sat on the pole here in the past. It's always been good to me. The victory has eluded me, now I have one in the bag."
"I felt like we would have won by now in the season, but to get it in the fashion we did, we passed Mark Martin for the win, and that was special to me. I'll always remember that".
"Heck, I thought I was dreaming there at one time. I kept looking at my mirror. I didn't know if it was going to turn into a nightmare or a good dream."
Today's dream moved Keller into fourth place in the championship point standings behind Jeff Green in first place, Todd Bodine and Matt Kenseth.
Matt Kenseth, Jeff Green and Joe Nemechek rounded out the top-five in today's race.
Finishing sixth after starting on the pole was Kevin Harvick, driver of the AC Delco Chevrolet. Harvick led twice for a total of 97 laps. Harvick, who had not seen the Dover Downs International Speedway before Thursday, led the first 57 laps, handing the lead to Jeff Green when the leaders stopped for the first round of pit stops.
Five laps later, Harvick regained the lead and led until lap 102. "It was loose at the beginning and then we tightened it up. We had the balance real well on the car. It was good."
"We just tightened it up too much," said Harvick after learning the crew over adjusted to compensate for a tire losing pressure. "We couldn't get another pit stop to get it corrected. I thought we might have a victory there for a while."
Harvick was awarded the Raybestos Rookie of the Race Award.
The Busch Grand National Series moves to South Boston Speedway in South Boston, VA next weekend.
Bill Elliott, driver of the McDonald's Ford Taurus, wrecked his primary car in this morning's practice session after cutting his right-front tire. The car suffered extensive damage causing Elliott to start Sunday's MBNA Platinum 400 in his backup car. Elliot, who qualified on the outside of the front row, will start at the back of the field. He'll still be credited with a second-place starting position.
Kyle Petty did not qualify for Sunday's MBNA Platinum 400. He'll remain at Dover to serve as a relief driver for John Andretti. Andretti, driver of the Petty Enterprises No. 43, is recuperating from a rib injury sustained last weekend during practice at Lowes Motor Speedway in Charlotte, NC.
Carl Long withdrew from the event after crashing the Mansion Motorsports Ford in first round qualifying on Friday. The team did not have a backup car.
Dave Blaney will go to a third car at Dover after crashing his primary car on Friday and his backup car during Happy Hour on Saturday. The team had a third car sent from their shop last night.