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. ASHTON LEWIS, ...
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.
ASHTON LEWIS, JR. -25-Team Marines Beans Ford Taurus
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST ADJUSTMENT FOR YOU SO FAR COMING FROM A FAMILY-OWNED TEAM?
"I think the first thing I had to adjust to was just knowing my place and what I need to worry about. To me, this is the best situation that I could have fallen into. One, it's a very competitive car that has the manufacturer support from Ford, but I also get a teammate like Jason, who has almost been through the same exact scenario that I have, and that's just someone else I can lean on. Just to get the opportunity to drive this car with as well as it's performed in the past is a tremendous opportunity for me."
HAVE YOU TALKED TO JASON KELLER ABOUT THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN A FAMILY-RUN OPERATION AND ONE WHERE YOUR ONLY RESPONSIBILITY IS BEING THE DRIVER?
"We've talked about it a couple of times already. You kind of have to learn your place and know what's expected of you, and I've definitely bounced a couple of things off of Jason. The way things were before, you didn't have to go through the steps to get stuff approved, but the Rensi's have been wonderful and given us what we need. It's taken some adapting on learning the new channels of communication and the new chain of command."
DO YOU FEEL THAT THIS IS THE FIRST SEASON YOU HAVE HAD ALL OF THE TOOLS TO GO AFTER THE CHAMPIONSHIP?
"I think for sure for winning the championship. I felt like last year we had a good enough team and a good enough car that we could go out on any given weekend and we could win races, but I didn't feel like we had the resources behind us where we could really be a championship contender. Now with the crew that they have assembled here with the cars that they have and the manufacturer's support and the Roush-Yates engines, I feel like we definitely have a shot to win a championship."
YOU BROUGHT YOUR BROTHER CHARLIE ALONG WITH YOU TO BE YOUR CREW CHIEF. WAS THERE EVER ANY DOUBT THAT HE WOULD FOLLOW YOU TO THE NO. 25 TEAM?
"When the Rensis started talking to me, we started looking at crew chiefs and Charlie was looking at a different direction and probably was going to be a car chief on the Cup side or go Cup racing. We looked around and we tried to find somebody else, and I kept going back to the fact that this was such a great opportunity with great cars that if we could just organize everything right and hit the ground running right from the start I felt like we have a chance to run for the championship. I wanted to bring somebody in here that I felt comfortable with someone I knew, so we didn't have to spend the first five or six races getting to know each other. Once Charlie agreed to do it, I think it's just been a perfect fit. I'm excited about it."
JASON MENTIONED THAT YOU BROUGHT A NUMBER OF YOUR RACE-PROVEN CARS TO TEAM RENSI.
"We had all intentions of running most of their cars from last year. We really just brought our cars over to help matters with the second team and make sure we had enough there so that if we need to go to them that we've got them. I know how well we ran at the end of the year, so I know they're good race cars, but when you go to an organization where all the guys here are used to these race cars, you don't want to change that. As far as Charlie is concerned, all he has to do is learn the cars. He doesn't have to learn the driver; he knows what I like. He's got to learn the Ford bodies and what those cars want as far as setups, but they've got such a great notebook already that if we came in here and said, 'No, we want to run our cars and just re-skin them with the Ford bodies,' I felt that would put us behind."
WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ON THE AERO PACKAGE FOR THE BUSCH CARS HERE AT DAYTONA?
"I think it makes it a lot more fun to race with. If you're off a little bit you have a much better chance of overshadowing that, and it makes everyone more competitive because you can stay in the pack, where before when you had the Cup rules, to me, the good cars were always up front and you could never get enough help to get up to them and race with them. Now, as long as you have some help it seems like you can go there and race with them."
DO YOU FEEL THAT WHEN YOU COME BACK HERE IN FEBRUARY THAT YOU WILL BE ABLE TO FIND A FEW MORE DRAFTING PARTNERS THAN YOU'VE HAD IN THE PAST?
"First and foremost, I'm going to have Jason who is a true teammate. I've already talked to him and told him that it's going to be great to go to Daytona and have a true teammate and somebody you can really trust. Then to know that you also have a number of fellow Ford teams, and they're not going to be as loyal but they're going to be more loyal to you than they would be to the Chevy guys. It's going to be a lot better feeling going into the race and not feeling like such a lone wolf out there. You still never feel comfortable, but you know you have at least one good friend and some more that will help you."