This Week in Ford Racing July 20, 2004 NASCAR Busch Series Jason Keller, driver of the No. 22 Taurus, doesn't consider himself the wily veteran chasing down the young guns for the NASCAR Busch Series championship. The 34-year-old South ...
This Week in Ford Racing
July 20, 2004
NASCAR Busch Series
Jason Keller, driver of the No. 22 Taurus, doesn't consider himself the wily veteran chasing down the young guns for the NASCAR Busch Series championship. The 34-year-old South Carolina native is currently third in the point standings, 359 points out of first, but he knows that the two series rookies ahead of him have veteran crews backing their efforts. Keller, instead, continues to focus on winning races, and looks to repeat his 2001 race-winning performance as the series heads to New Hampshire International Speedway for this weekend's Siemens 200.
JASON KELLER -No. 22 Miller High Life Ford Taurus
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED RULE CHANGE?
"Well, as long as we don't have a stint like the trucks had on Saturday night I think we'll be all right. I understand why NASCAR did it. It's for the fans and I'm OK with that, but as racers, we all know that cautions breed cautions. I like their idea that there will only be one green-white-checkered attempt at the end of the race. They've given it a lot of thought, and we need to make sure we're ready for all scenarios. There are going to situations that pop up that we're not going to expect, and with new rules that always happens. Hopefully we can be the benefactors instead of the ones that lose."
WITH JUST ONE ATTEMPT AT A GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED FINISH, DOES THIS APPEASE THE FANS WHO WANT TO SEE THE RACE END UNDER GREEN-FLAG CONDITIONS?
"Any of the fans that watched the truck race Saturday night understand that it could go on forever, and one of the arguments that I've heard is that the drivers should control that and not race like they did last Saturday. They shouldn't race like that and wreck each other on a green-white-checkered finish, but that's not the nature of our beast. We get that close to the end and we race even harder. I think it will be good for the fans and they will more than likely get to see a checkered flag and that's what they pay for, so I think it will be the best for both worlds."
DO YOU FEEL THE RULE WILL HAVE A DIFFERENT IMPACT AT A SHORT-TRACK VENUE COMPARED TO A SUPERSPEEDWAY?
"It's even going to be worse at a restrictor-plate race. If we have a green-white-checkered finish at a restrictor-plate race, they're going to be happy that they put in the rule that you can only have one. I don't want to say that it will be worse at those places, but when you bunch everybody up at a restrictor-plate race with two to go and give us two laps to shoot it out, it's going to be tough."
SOME OF THE TOP-TIER TEAMS HAVE SUFFERED ENGINE FAILURES IN RECENT WEEKS. ENTERING THE SUMMER STRETCH, HAS ENGINE RELIABILITY BEEN A CONCERN?
"To be honest, I was on vacation all last week, and I don't want to say that I've been out of the loop, but I called Wes (Ward, crew chief) and asked if everything was OK and he said, 'Yeah, 100 percent.' I'm sure he's been on top of that, but from my perspective, I let them take care of all of that stuff and I focus on driving the car."
YOU RUN A YATES-PREPARED MOTOR IN THE SERIES, BUT IS THERE ANY INFORMATION OR TECHNOLOGY BEING SHARED WITH THE ROUSH CAMP?
"To my understanding, the only Roush-Yates combination there is in the Cup Series. We don't go to the Roush teams in the Busch garage if we have a problem with our primary motor, so it's to my understanding there is no partnership that exists outside of the Cup garage."
YOU JUMPED FOUR POSITIONS IN THE POINT STANDINGS FOLLOWING THE RACE AT CHICAGO. IS IT TIME TO START TALKING CHAMPIONSHIP?
"It's still going to be a tremendous hurdle to overcome to try to win the championship, but we're being more competitive on a more consistent basis, so from that standpoint I'm very happy. I'm relatively happy being third right now. Really for me, because we're so far out of the lead, I really haven't even been thinking about the points. I left Chicago, got on the airplane, flew back home, got up the next morning and drove to the beach. I never even knew I was third. I don' t want to say we're out of the chase yet, but we've got some ground to make up before we can consider ourselves true contenders. We're more interested in winning races right now, and if we can do that the points will take care of themselves. Yeah, we're trying to chase down two series rookies, but they have veteran teams backing their efforts, so it's not going to be easy."
YOU WON AT NEW HAMPSHIRE INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY IN 2001, WHEN THE SERIES USED TO RACE ON MOTHER'S DAY WEEKEND. DO YOU HAVE A PREFERENCE ON WHEN THIS RACE IS RUN?
"I liked racing there on Mother's Day because when I won in 2001, my mother was up there for that race. That was a special win for me being able to dedicate it to her, but so many of the Cup guys raced with us that weekend since it was their off weekend that I don't think it really matters when the race is held. There are a number of the Cup guys running with us this weekend, and we know they'll be tough no matter what, so you always have to be on your game when you head up there whether it's April or July."