BUSCH: Pikes Peak: This Week in Ford Racing

This Week in Ford Racing July 19, 2005 NASCAR Busch Series Jason Keller, driver of the No. 35 Ford, has steadily climbed his way up the point standings with his first-year crew at Team Rensi. Twenty races into the Busch Series season,...

This Week in Ford Racing
July 19, 2005

NASCAR Busch Series

Jason Keller, driver of the No. 35 Ford, has steadily climbed his way up the point standings with his first-year crew at Team Rensi. Twenty races into the Busch Series season, Keller currently sits ninth in the driver standings as the focus turns to Pikes Peak International Raceway, a track nearly 6.000 feet above sea level. Keller, who captured the pole at PPIR in 2002, spoke about the effects of competing at altitude and the progress of his McDonald's team.

JASON KELLER-35-McDonald's Ford Taurus

WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF RACING AT THAT ALTITUDE? "It just seems to be hotter. The cars don't seem to cool off quite as much. We're taking a little bit extra precaution this week to make sure we have enough brake ducts and with the cooling of the motor and things like that. The cooling of the drivers, I don't know if it's that much of a difference. Heat is heat, and it's hot everywhere, it seems, this summer. I have been pretty conscious about it to try to hydrate myself a little bit extra already this week. I went to GNC and got some electrolyte packs, so I am probably planning a little bit extra care for this weekend in particular."

SOME DRIVERS HAVE UNIQUE TRAINING REGIMENTS TO ADAPT BETTER TO THE SUMMERTIME HEAT. IS THERE ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR YOU DO TO BETTER ACCLIMATE YOURSELF TO THE HEAT IN THE COCKPIT? "I've heard all of those stories, and I've heard of drivers driving around with the windows rolled up and the heat on. I'll tell you what, if I have access to an air conditioner, I'm going to use it. I laugh when I say that, but I don't do anything different in the summer. I work out the same way, and in the same controlled environment, which is probably not the best thing, but I don't do anything different."

THE BUSCH SERIES HAS IMPLEMENTED A ONE-DAY RACE FORMAT AT MANY VENUES THIS YEAR. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE ONE-DAY SHOW? "I like them. It gives us a little bit more time at home, and that time to me is extremely valuable. I don't like going to the race track and sitting around. I like to get to the race track, and I like to be on the race track practicing and concentrating on the race car. Downtime at the race track is a really stressful and anxious time. I get really anxious and I don't feel comfortable with a lot downtime at a race track because it leads to a lot of second-guessing. I like to be really focused on the car and not have a lot of that downtime."

YOU MOVED INTO NINTH PLACE IN THE POINT STANDINGS AFTER LAST WEEK'S RACE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE. ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THE PROGRESS YOUR TEAM HAS MADE SO FAR THIS SEASON? "We have made some strides, but we have had some setbacks. It's just we're still trying to catch up. I'm very proud of what the race team has done, and I'm really striving for more, though, and everybody is. It's not like I'm pushing for more and the team's not pushing for more. We're just behind, but I am happy with where we are. We're finally starting to talk about building some new race cars for the future and I think that will only better us. I think that will take us to the next level and hopefully that will happen soon."

DOES THE ONE-DAY FORMAT HAMPER THE LEARNING PROCESS FOR A FIRST-YEAR TEAM? "It's the same amount of track time, but you don't have a lot of time to digest the information you gather. It's hard for a driver-crew chief relationship, like myself and Pat Smith, to really digest a lot of that stuff. We're having to digest a lot of stuff on Mondays and Tuesdays. We are having to go back to the shop and say, 'What just happened?' or 'What should we have done in practice?' If you had a two-day show you might be able to ask those questions the night before, so it does hamper that a little bit. We are going to test at IRP after St. Louis, which I am extremely excited about. We haven't had a whole lot of testing going on. We've been struggling on the flat tracks, and the flat tracks are typically my expertise if I have one. I have a really good feel on the flatter race tracks, so Pat and I have been struggling a little bit. We're going to get through Pikes Peak and run good out there, but we're going to go IRP on Monday and Tuesday and I'm really excited about that."

YOU MENTIONED BUILDING CARS FOR THE FUTURE, BUT THERE WILL BE A NEW CAR FOR FORD NEXT YEAR IN THE BUSCH SERIES. WHAT ARE YOUR INITIAL THOUGHTS OF THE FORD FUSION? "I'm sure Ford has done their homework. I really haven't had enough time to research the changes on the car, but I did talk to Greg Specht briefly in Loudon and he said it would be minimal change. I haven't had a lot of time to focus on that, but it will actually be good for us because we'll get all new bodies and we won't have to piece together old stuff. In a sense that will be good, but I'm sure the owners of Team Rensi, it's hard for the race teams to incur those kinds of costs. But, we have to move forward and we have to catch up. If it's an aero situation that we need to catch up on, I'm glad Ford is staying on top of that, and in this sport you have to continue to move forward and keep that blue oval up front."

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Drivers Jason Keller