This Week in Ford Racing September 30, 2003 NASCAR Busch Series Jason Keller, driver of the No. 57 Albertsons Ford, is currently fifth in the NASCAR Busch Series point standings, but with seven races remaining in the season the 12-year veteran...
This Week in Ford Racing
September 30, 2003
NASCAR Busch Series
Jason Keller, driver of the No. 57 Albertsons Ford, is currently fifth in the NASCAR Busch Series point standings, but with seven races remaining in the season the 12-year veteran is still in contention for the championship. Heading into this weekend's Mr. Goodcents 300 at Kansas Speedway, Keller trails first-place Brian Vickers by 106 points. Keller spoke about the points race, his team's sponsor search and his plans for next season during a two-day test session at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
JASON KELLER -57-Albertsons Ford Taurus
WHAT IS THE CURRENT STATUS OF THE SPONSORSHIP SEARCH AT PPC RACING AND HOW IS THAT IMPACTING YOUR PLANS FOR NEXT SEASON?
"I'm really trying to buy as much time as I can. I'm dedicated to this race team and I'm hopeful we can find something and go forward with what we've built up to this point. You don't want to lose all that you've worked for over the years. You'd have to ask the owners exactly where they are, but they feel very confident that we'll find something and feel confident that we're close. I'm kinda putting all of my eggs in that basket right now."
YOU'VE BEEN ABLE TO RUN A COUPLE OF WINSTON CUP RACES THIS YEAR. HAS THAT FUELED A DESIRE TO PURSUE A FULL-TIME WINSTON CUP RIDE?
"I think I got my belly full of that Cup deal for right now. I've had some really good opportunities and learned a lot but it's one of those things where if you're not going to go over there and jump in with both feet you better not even go. I've tried a little bit here and there and it's a different mentality, it's a different type of racing, so you better jump in with both feet and be totally committed. That's not the situation that I'm in so I better not overlook what I have here in the Busch Series and try to work on it some more."
PPC RACING IS A PERENNIAL POWERHOUSE IN BUSCH SERIES COMPETITION, YET IT LACKS PRIMARY SPONSORS FOR NEXT SEASON. IS THAT A REFLECTION OF THE ECONOMY OR THE SERIES?
"The way that ppc had been structured, they had staggered their sponsors, but now they're all up in one year and it's all come up at one time. Hopefully the way the economy is starting to rebound, we've got a lot of people's numbers and hopefully it will come back and people will continue to need to advertise and they'll choose the Busch Series. This is a great value. It's got some good sponsors, we just need more of them."
DOES THE BUSCH SERIES NEED TO DEVELOP ITS OWN IDENTITY, AND WOULD IT BE HELPFUL TO RUN FEWER WINSTON CUP COMPANION EVENTS TO ACHIEVE THAT GOAL?
"It depends on what market you go in. I think some markets can handle that. Kentucky has proven that it can handle it and Nashville has proven that they can handle it. New Hampshire proved that they could handle it before. I think the markets dictate that. I'm not so sure we could go to a Texas or somewhere without Winston Cup. We need the draw of Winston Cup at some venues, and my personal opinion is that it's market scenario."
WITH MORE AND MORE DRIVERS COMPETING INTO THEIR LATE 40S, IS THAT HURTING THE PROGRESSION OF YOUNGER DRIVERS WITH LESS OPPORTUNITIES TO MOVE TO THE NEXT LEVEL?
"Not really, because now owners are making seats for these young guys. The Winston Cup Series is going to get more and more like that in the near future because you have the young guys coming in and the older guys are going to go out. You've got teams now that have one or two young guys, and in some situations, one or two veterans, too. That's a good mix and maybe that's what we can get in the Busch Series. I'd like to see a young guy come in and maybe we could develop one with a third team using what I know and what Scott knows and groom a younger guy."
YOU CHOSE TO TEST AT LOWE'S MOTOR SPEEDWAY THIS WEEK AND YOUR TEAMMATE, SCOTT RIGGS, TESTED AT KANSAS SPEEDWAY LAST WEEK. ARE THE 1.5-MILE TRACKS GOING TO BE THE KEY TO WINNING THE CHAMPIONSHIP?
"It's just going to be who makes the least mistakes down the stretch, and some of those mistakes aren't made on your own. We saw that at Richmond and David Green saw that at Dover as well. It's just going to between the 5 and whoever makes the least amount of mistakes. We need some help because of the accident at Richmond, but we still need to run well. We can't just lay back and say 'Well, if it happens, it happens.' We've got to be aggressive and that's why Scott tested at Kansas City and that's why we're testing here at Charlotte. We need to be real aggressive and we believe testing will help us accomplish that."
THERE HAS BEEN SOME INTENSE RACING BETWEEN THE TOP-FIVE DRIVERS IN THE POINTS RACE.
"What that allows me to do is not focus on one guy. Two years ago, I was racing Harvick down the stretch and last year I was racing Biffle head to head, and you could keep up on what was going on. With five of us, it really takes the focus off of what the other people are doing because you can't focus on all four of them and still worry about what you're doing. You've just got to let the race unfold, and I know some of the guys in the points are getting aggressive and aggravated with each other and maybe that's helping me out that much more."