This Week in Ford Racing March 8, 2005 NASCAR Busch Series As the NASCAR Busch Series competitors prepare for their fourth consecutive race of the season this week in Las Vegas, Jason Keller, driver of the No. 35 Ford, shared his thoughts...
This Week in Ford Racing
March 8, 2005
NASCAR Busch Series
As the NASCAR Busch Series competitors prepare for their fourth consecutive race of the season this week in Las Vegas, Jason Keller, driver of the No. 35 Ford, shared his thoughts on the start of the campaign. Keller, who joined Team Rensi in the off-season, also spoke about the impact that his new sponsor, McDonald's, has had on his personal life, switching from one last season that marketed to a 21 -and-over audience. Keller has two children, Joe and Jade, who are 8 and 6 years old, respectively.
JASON KELLER-35-McDonald's Ford Taurus
THIS WEEKEND MARKS THE RETURN OF THE D3 CYLINDER TO BUSCH SERIES COMPETITION. WITH MARK MARTIN'S DOMINANT PERFORMANCE AT CALIFORNIA TWO WEEKS AGO, IT APPEARS THE NEW ENGINE PACKAGE HAS MADE AN IMMEDIATE IMPACT. "I think it helped all of the teams. Naturally, the cars that ran way up front, it looked like it helped them more, but I think we missed our chassis setup a little bit and still the motor was a lot better. It's good to take the motor out of the equation because we know the motors are better, so that just allows us to focus on the other things. It's one good thing that we can take that out of the equation. I wish we had them everywhere, but, of course, time hasn't allowed that."
WILL IT HELP TO HAVE THE NEW ENGINE PACKAGE AT TESTS LATER IN THE SEASON? "Yeah, that will be good. We haven't done any testing really. We did that Daytona test and that really doesn't count. We have to take what we learned at California and try to implement it in Las Vegas. They're different, but I think you can use some things, so it's a learning expertise."
WHAT IS YOUR ASSESSMENT OF LAST WEEKEND'S TRIP SOUTH OF THE BORDER? "There's a lot of good things and I think it's going to bring a lot of new fans to NASCAR, but I was a little homesick. It's a great market for McDonald's, so I'm going to be positive about the whole thing. It's great to have new fans of NASCAR. I'm not a big fan of going to a place that's really out of our element, though. We went to a road course and we hadn't been to one in four years. That's one thing out of our element and we were trying to show the new fans what NASCAR racing is all about and what Busch Series racing is all about, and I don't think that was a good depiction of what it's really all about."
THE START OF THE 2005 SEASON HAS BEEN PREDOMINANTLY WEST OF THE MISSISSIPPI. AS A NATIVE OF SOUTH CAROLINA, ARE YOU MISSING THE WEEKENDS AT DARLINGTON AND ROCKINGHAM? "I'd love to be at Rockingham right now. I know it's not as big of a market as Mexico or California or Vegas, but I'd love to be back home at those local places. I'm homesick right now from this West Coast swing and I usually don't get homesick at the race track, but I'm ready to get back racing more near home. Once I'm strapped in the race car I won't think about being home until after I get out of the race car, but I'm definitely missing my family time now."
YOU ARE WITH A NEW ORGANIZATION THIS SEASON. WITH TEAM RENSI MOVING FROM ONE FULL-TIME TEAM TO TWO THIS YEAR, HAVE YOU FILLED ALL OF THE GAPS IN YOUR TEAM? "I think personnel-wise we have, the only we haven't been able to do is go to any track that is similar to what we've run before. We'll start that this week at Las Vegas, and we'll go to something that is similar to California, but Daytona is so different and the road courses are so different. I'm ready to get some similarities in a track so we can start building."
YOU HAVE STATED IN THE PAST HOW IMPORTANT IT IS THAT YOU SPEND TIME WITH YOUR FAMILY, AND THAT IS ONE REASON WHY YOU CHOSE TO STAY IN THE BUSCH SERIES. COMMENT ON HOW YOUR NEW SPONSOR HAS HAD AN IMPACT OF YOUR FAMILY. "It's perfect. It couldn't be any better. I've had great sponsors in the past, so I won't say anything negative about any of my past sponsors, but it's great when I can take a picture of the McDonald's car and autograph for the kids at my kids' school. That's fun for me, and I'm going to be able to do a lot at the school with the show car and things, so it's a great thing."
HAVE YOUR CHILDREN BEEN ABLE TO TAKE PART IN SPONSOR ACTIVITIES? "They love it. They think it's the best sponsor in the world. They're wearing their McDonald's hats, and that's fun for me. Naturally, they couldn't wear the Miller hats that we had last year, so it's a fun sponsor for not just me, but also my family. It's going to be fun and we're going to do a lot of promotions. I can take them to autograph sessions with me when they're there at the race track, and that's the biggest thing - we can do it as a family."