BUSCH: Phoenix: Ford - Jason Keller interview

This Week in Ford Racing October 28, 2003 NASCAR Busch Series Jason Keller, driver of the No. 57 Albertsons Ford, has finished in the top three in the NASCAR Busch Series point standings each of the past three years, but as the 2003 season...

This Week in Ford Racing
October 28, 2003

NASCAR Busch Series

Jason Keller, driver of the No. 57 Albertsons Ford, has finished in the top three in the NASCAR Busch Series point standings each of the past three years, but as the 2003 season draws to a close, the 33-year-old South Carolina native finds himself in uncharted territory. Keller is currently third in the point standings, but a mere 35 points out of first, this is the closest that he has been in his quest for the championship with three races remaining. Add to that, Scott Riggs, his ppc Racing teammate, is currently second in the standings just 13 points shy of leader David Green making for the possibility of a one-two team finish.

YOU'VE FINISHED IN THE TOP THREE IN POINTS THE LAST THREE SEASONS, BUT HEADING TO PHOENIX THIS IS THE CLOSEST THAT YOU'VE BEEN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP. "Looking at it, we can finish really anywhere from first to sixth. It's going to be real tight and there's going to be a lot on the line here with three to go. I feel really good about Phoenix. We finished fourth there last year and then we go to Rockingham. I finished fifth there in the spring and I won there in the past. It's going to come down to Homestead and that's a huge unknown for everyone, so you want to put yourself as far ahead of the pack as you can in the next two weeks. I feel good about the next couple of race tracks."

THERE IS A TIGHT POINTS BATTLE TAKING PLACE, BUT THERE ARE ALSO A LOT OF DRIVERS FIGHTING FOR THEIR JOBS OVER THE COURSE OF THE NEXT THREE WEEKS. DO YOU EXPECT DRIVERS TO BE MORE AGGRESSIVE ON THE TRACK IN THE COMING WEEKS? "Most definitely. There's a lot on the line. There's going to be a lot of tension the last three races for everyone, not just for the point contenders. These guys that are fighting for their jobs, it's just as important as us winning the championship. Heck, I'm fighting for my job now, so there is a lot on the line for a lot of different people in a lot of different ways. I'd say that the tension level is going to rise over the next couple of weeks."

ONE OF THE CONTENDERS FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP IS YOUR TEAMMATE SCOTT RIGGS. PPC RACING HAD A ONE-TWO FINISH IN THE POINT STANDINGS IN 2000, BUT THERE WAS A LARGE GAP BETWEEN FIRST AND SECOND AS THE SEASON CONCLUDED. HOW DIFFERENT IS THIS SCENARIO? "It is different. I'd be lying to say it wasn't. When I finished second to Jeff Green I was 600 points behind so there was never any struggle as far as who was going to win and who was going to finish second. We've been racing each other hard on the race track and we're just going to try to leave it on the race track. I'm sure it's a little bit harder for the guys in the shop because the competitor in them comes out, but they know it's a team deal at ppc and they're not going to let that get in our way. It's tough, but I've been doing this for a long time, chasing this championship for a long time, and although I finished second and third a couple of years, this is the closest that I've ever been with three races to go, so for me this is a big opportunity."

SCOTT RIGGS MADE HIS PLANS FOR 2004 PUBLIC LAST WEEK. HAS THAT AFFECTED ANY OF THE DYNAMICS WITHIN THE PPC ORGANIZATION? "No, I don't think so. I'm trying to separate what's going to happen the rest of this year from next year. I don't know what's going to happen to me. I don't know what I'm going to be doing or where I'm going to be. My personal self has been trying to separate the two. I've taken the mentality, 'Let's really focus on the championship because we don't know when we will have this opportunity again.' Scott made his plans public and it looks like there are going to be some personnel changes over there as well. I guess they have to deal with the dynamics of their race team as best they can, but I don't really have to change my focus. Steve (Addington) and I have really been buckling down on our race team and we haven't let all of the other stuff bother us."

YOUR NAME HAS ENTERED THE RUMOR MILL FOR VARIOUS BUSCH SERIES RIDES NEXT YEAR. WOULD YOU CONSIDER A PART-TIME ROLE? "Some of the things that have been discussed between me and some of the other owners, everything is not being told right now and there is a little bit of uncertainty at ppc. I don't know if I'd want to be a part-time racer, no, but there are some other things that could materialize and we'll just have to wait and see."

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Drivers Jason Keller , Jeff Green , David Green , Scott Riggs