Team Rensi teammates Jason Keller and Ashton Lewis, Jr., along with ST Motorsports driver Stacy Compton took some time during Sunday's lunch break to share their thoughts on testing for next month's Busch Series season-opener. JASON ...
Team Rensi teammates Jason Keller and Ashton Lewis, Jr., along with ST Motorsports driver Stacy Compton took some time during Sunday's lunch break to share their thoughts on testing for next month's Busch Series season-opener.
JASON KELLER -35-McDonald's Ford Taurus
BOTH RENSI TEAMS OPTED TO START TESTING TODAY. WAS THAT A STRATEGIC DECISION?
"A day was extremely valuable for us at the shop, so they worked all day Friday to get the backup car ready. We would have loved to have been down here, but we just got such a late start that we needed every minute of time we could get at the shop right now. Originally we were told about a week ago that they weren't going to let us draft until Monday. They did change that this past week, so we kind of changed our plan a couple of weeks ago and figured to go down there and run by ourselves, we know the cars are going to be impounded, so another day in the shop was extremely valuable."
THE FORMATION OF THIS SECOND-CAR TEAM WAS JUST RECENTLY ANNOUNCED. HOW MANY CARS ARE PREPARED IN THE SHOP?
"Really, it was announced two weeks ago, but it didn't start until January 3rd as far as people in the shop, and we didn't have a lot of them then. This has been a building process over the last three weeks, and what these guys have accomplished in three weeks time is phenomenal. We know we have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but I'm extremely happy with what they've done so far. Because of the situation, Ashton brought a lot of his cars over. That's helped us some, but all of his stuff needed to be re-skinned into Ford Tauruses. We've got a lot of pieces there, we just need to get the right bodies put on them."
IS STEPPING INTO A NEW TEAM A FEW WEEKS BEFORE THE FIRST RACE, AS STRESSFUL AS NOT HAVING A FULL-YEAR SPONSOR AS WAS THE CASE LAST YEAR?
"I've got a lot more gray hair. It was a tough deal last year going through what we went through and coming to the race track unsponsored here and there. It took its toll on everything. I'm extremely appreciative of Greg Pollex going to the race track without a sponsor, but this is a whole different scenario. Although we are behind, we know it's fully funded by one of the most recognizable companies in the world, and that's what I'm looking at most to know that this thing is going to get better and better as the year goes on. We just have to get cars built up now."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE NEW IMPOUND RULE IN THE BUSCH SERIES?
"I love it. What you have is what you have, so let's tape it up and try to qualify and let's go racing. I haven't qualified all that well the past two years. I used to qualify great, and maybe that has something to being young and dumb. I used to qualify real good and have all kinds of pole flags at the house. I like the idea of impounding."
IS THE NEW PROVISIONAL RULE A CONCERN FOR YOUR TEAM SINCE THE NO. 35 DID NOT RUN THE FULL SEASON IN 2004?
"We are using his 46 points, so we're lucky enough to have that taken care of, too."
HAVE YOU NOTICE ANY SIMILARITIES BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR NEW TEAMMATE, ASHTON LEWIS, JR.?
"There are a lot of similarities. His family did basically what my family did to get my start. I just want to get him into Victory Lane. He has a lot of the same demeanor that I have. He comes from a great family, so I don't think that there are going to be a lot of egos here and I think we're going to work well together. What I see with Charlie (Lewis, No. 25 crew chief) so far I really like as well. He seems to be really easygoing, too, so I'm real excited about it."
AT THE END OF LAST YEAR YOU MENTIONED THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE TEAMED WITH A VETERAN DRIVER. IS THIS YOUR IDEAL SITUATION?
"This is close. Ashton has been around for a long time. The guy is extremely smart and he's a lot more technical than I am. I think by talking to him and by experiencing how he discusses things, I think that's going to help me a lot. The two-car program is definitely beneficial. We're going to have to do what we have to do at the beginning of the season. We may not be taking the exactly the same car every week because he had some different cars from what the 25 had, so as the season goes on and we can bring the same exact car every week with the same body that's going to help a lot more."
YOU FINISHED OUTSIDE THE TOP FIVE IN POINTS LAST YEAR FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 1999. WITH THIS BEING A NEW TEAM, CAN YOU EXPECT TO RETURN TO A TOP-FIVE FINISH IN THE POINT STANDINGS THIS SEASON?
"The short-term goal is that I just have to get back to victory Lane. Hopefully that comes early enough in the season to where we can get some momentum and do some things in the points. I haven't set any goals at all in the points. I've set some short-term goals and one is to come down to Daytona and run competitive, and two is to get back to Victory Lane as soon as we can. I hope it comes at Daytona, but if it doesn't I hope it comes early enough in the season that we have something to build on."
ARE YOU A FAN OF THE AERO PACKAGE HERE AT DAYTONA FOR THE BUSCH CARS?
"I don't know. I'm still kind of up in the air about this package. It's definitely a different racing package and it's going to a little bit different to race with. I haven't had a lot of success with it yet, so I'm kind of still up in the air."