Jason Keller rounded out the Ford Racing participants on today's NASCAR Busch Series/Craftsman Truck Series teleconference. Keller heads into this weekend's Kroger 200 in third place in the point standings, 178 points behind first-place ...
Jason Keller rounded out the Ford Racing participants on today's NASCAR Busch Series/Craftsman Truck Series teleconference. Keller heads into this weekend's Kroger 200 in third place in the point standings, 178 points behind first-place Kevin Harvick. Keller has two wins in seven starts at Indianapolis Raceway Park, including four top-10 finishes and one pole.
JASON KELLER-57-Albertsons Ford Taurus -
YOU HAVE A PRETTY GOOD TRACK RECORD AT IRP. WHAT'S BEEN SO SPECIAL ABOUT THAT TRACK?
"I don't know. It certainly has been a good race track for me and it brings back a lot of wonderful memories. You used to be able to run right along the wall and slide around the corners a little bit, but the race track has changed some lately. I've talked to some people that have tested there, so I'm a little anxious to go back and see how it's going to react. I grew up on the flat, half-mile and three-eighths mile race tracks around the Carolinas and it drives similar to that. I don't know if maybe that's some of the reason for my success there, but it's just always been a fun race track for me and I've always enjoyed it."
IN SEVEN OF THE LAST TEN RACES YOU'VE FINISHED IN THE TOP FIVE. YOU'RE THIRD IN THE POINTS AND A FEW POINTS OUT OF SECOND. CAN YOU MAKE THAT DEFICIT UP IN A FEW RACES?
"Yeah, you can, but the way Harvick is doing things and the way his race team is performing right now, it's going to be tough, but we're not going to make it easy on him. We're going to do our best and if he so happens to have a couple of bad races, we can be right there in the middle of this thing. I'm really, really just proud of my guys. For all that we did in the off-season to change over with our Ford program this year, and we changed sponsors. We had to paint everything, and a lot of people don't realize how much of any issue that is to change everything from the red to the blue of Albertsons. It was an extremely tough winter for the guys, but I'm extremely proud of what they've done and just proud of the position we're in right now. We just need to continue to rack up those top fives, and if we continue to do that, if one of the guys in front of us falters, maybe we can be there to capitalize on it."
HOW IMPORTANT IS QUALIFYING GOING TO BE THIS WEEKEND AT IRP, ONE OF THE SHORTEST TRACKS ON THE SCHEDULE?
"It's going to be extremely important; that's a very good point to bring up. If the groove has moved down on the bottom like a lot of the drivers have said, it will be even tougher because you won't be able to slingshot and fly around them on the outside like you used to be able to. It's going to be extremely tough. It's going to be extremely tough to pass, so I think to give yourself a chance to win, you're going to have to qualify up front. Both races that I won there, I qualified, I think third or fourth once, and I qualified on the pole for the other one that I won. Qualifying up front is definitely important anywhere, now that the competition is so hard, but it's going to be extremely important there."
WEEK-IN AND WEEK-OUT, THERE SEEM TO BE FOUR DRIVERS FINISHING IN THE TOP FIVE. DOES IT HELP HAVING A TEAMMATE TO PICK YOU UP IF YOU SLIP?
"I've got a great teammate in Jeff Green and all the 10 guys, the Nesquik guys. Like I said, we're going to have to capitalize if these guys have some bad races. We've been finishing in the top five this year and a lot lately, but look at the stats this past weekend at Pikes Peak. You've got the guys in points second, third, fourth and fifth. It's hard to gain a lot of points, so we have to be there capitalize on mistakes and we can't make any mistakes ourselves, and that's what we're focused on. We're trying to beat these guys week-in and week-out, but we just have to continue to do what we're doing and try to be there and capitalize when they make mistakes."
LOOKING TOWARDS NEXT YEAR, YOU'LL BE TEAMED WITH SCOTT RIGGS.
"I don't know much about Scott, but I've heard a lot of positives and really good things about Scott, and I'm really excited about that. My role is going to change a little bit. I've really had to lean on Jeff a lot lately, and a lot in my career over the last little bit. He's really helped me, but I think by having Jeff Green as my teammate, I've learned from him, I hope, and maybe I can help Scott the same way Jeff has helped me. It's going to be a different role, but I'm ready for it. I'm in this thing for ppc Racing and everything they've done for me, and I'm extremely excited about our futures at ppc Racing. Sometimes you have to step up and change and make the best of it, and I'm ready to do that."
GREG BIFFLE HAS NEVER RUN MORE THAN 26 IN A YEAR ON THE CRAFTSMAN TRUCK SERIES. WILL FATIGUE TAKE A TOLL ON HIM?
"Well, every time I think that something is going to affect Greg Biffle, he proves me wrong and everybody else around wrong. This guy has really got his act together and is a really hard racer and a good racer. I don't foresee anything like that, and I don't foresee that a lack of experience is going to affect him. He's been to places like Charlotte this year, and never raced there, and ran up front and led laps. I'm talking about some really tough race tracks and he's done some great things. I don't foresee anything right now in the immediate future that's going to affect him negatively. The only thing that we've got to do, and I keep saying it, we have to capitalize if and when they make a mistake. That's going to separate who wins and who doesn't win."
WE'RE HEADING TO SOME OF THE SMALLER TRACKS ON THE SCHEDULE. DOES THAT GIVE A VETERAN LIKE YOU AN ADVANTAGE?
"Well, I don't know if it gives a veteran like me an advantage, but there are races that I really feel confident going to. I'm really excited about going to a lot of these races for the second time this year. You have to realize that I know we finished one-two in the points last year at ppc Racing, but we basically had to start all over this year. We had to re-evaluate things, we had to get re-baselined with our new Fords, we had to do a lot of things different. I'm really, really excited to go back to these places for the second time, so that we can hopefully learn and take what we learned and turn it into success. I don't really want to have it held over me that I can only run on the short tracks, but a lot of my success has been on the shorter race tracks. This year we've shown that we can run at Charlotte, we can go to Darlington and run well, we can go to some of these places that typically I've never run well and run well. Hopefully, we're getting out of that shadow and maybe down the road run better at he bigger race tracks. I need to go to Michigan and run well. There are a lot of things that need to happen in the next 10 to 12 races left in the season, and up until this point, we've done everything we can possibly do. We just have to continue to get stronger because these race teams that we're racing with are going to continue to get stronger. We need, if we're going to stay in this thing until the very end, we have to step up."