Jason Keller, driver of the No. 57 Ford, became the second two-time winner of the 2002 NASCAR Busch Series season, joining fellow Ford driver Jeff Burton in accomplishing that feat. Keller won the 117-lap race, avoiding the multi-car accident on...
Jason Keller, driver of the No. 57 Ford, became the second two-time winner of the 2002 NASCAR Busch Series season, joining fellow Ford driver Jeff Burton in accomplishing that feat. Keller won the 117-lap race, avoiding the multi-car accident on lap 16 that involved 27 cars, and left 11 cars on the lead lap. Keller took the lead on lap 68 following a green-flag pit stop on lap 66 and battled Stacy Compton in the closing laps to win his seventh career NASCAR Busch Series race.
JASON KELLER-57-Albertsons Ford Taurus (Finished 1st)
"We had a real fast car to start with and we worked our way up there with Compton to second and that wreck happened behind us; I hope everybody is OK. I radioed in and said, 'Everyone seems to be OK.' That's the best thing to get everyone safe. I really felt that we had a pretty good race car and the crew really won the race. When they got me off pit road and I got the momentum and I passed the 59, it worked out great for us. I've been kind of hard on them the last couple of weeks because of pit stops, but they won this one today."
HOW IMPORTANT WAS IT TO BE OUT FRONT, AND IF KENNY WALLACE WAS ABLE TO STAY BEHIND STACY COMPTON, WOULD THAT HAVE MADE A DIFFERENCE? "I think the 59 was a little stronger than we were there, especially out front because I couldn't get a run on him. But then when he got behind me, he couldn't get a run on me. Track position was everything and I didn't even know that Kenny had fallen out, and then all of a sudden we lapped him down there and they said that his motor broke. It just really worked out great. We ran up front all year long, and for me to come here to Talladega and win the race, that's a big step and we just need to keep this Albertsons Ford in Victory Lane."
TALK ABOUT THE LAPS FIVE LAPS. "Well, I know I don't like to mirror-drive, but when you get down to 10 to go here at the end of a race, I drove a lot in that mirror. I saw Dale Earnhardt do it a lot, and I kinda went back on that experience."
STEVE ADDINGTON, Crew Chief-57-Albertsons Ford Taurus - WAS THIS RACE ANYTHING LIKE YOU EXPECTED? "No, but a win is a win, even though this isn't the way we wanted to win it. Our teammate was involved in that wreck, but one thing we can say and feel good about is that we were out front when the wreck happened, so we can take that."
IT SEEMED THAT THE PIT STOP THAT PUT JASON BACK ON THE TRACK IN FIRST MIGHT HAVE BEEN THE DIFFERENCE. "We made a deal where all three of us were going to come in on that lap. I was looking at the 59 car and wondering, 'Man, what are they doing staying out?' I thought they were trying to pull something on me, but I guess his spotter said that he saw the 7 car slow. But we still came on down and our spotter got Jason in, so that's what won the race. The spotter got him down past the 7 car."
CHRISTIAN ELDER-38-Great Clips Ford Taurus (Finished 43rd)
WHAT ENDED YOUR DAY EARLY TODAY? "Something in the engine went. It's too bad because we've had great Cosworth motors all year, but today wasn't the day for them. I don't think I ever lifted the whole time I was out there, so it wasn't like we burned a piston or anything; something just decided to let go."
WAS THERE ANY INDICATION AT THE START OF THE RACE THAT YOU COULD HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THE MOTOR? "No warning, no stumbles, no anything. It just all of sudden, all at once let go. I went down about 60 on my horsepower, just enough so I didn't get run over. I had just enough power where I could still wave everybody off, and if I had just been 100 dead, I probably would have gotten run over. I got a little lucky there. I just feel bad for these guys. They busted their humps putting this car together since Daytona. Two laps is awfully sickening for a driver and for a crew."
GREG BIFFLE-60-Grainger Ford Taurus (Finished 26th)
WHAT DID YOU SEE? "Just typical restrictor-plate racing. It's pretty much what you're going to see with restrictor-plate racing. We were all racing next to each other, going that fast, somebody slips up and bumps somebody. There's no controlling the car at that kind of speed and everybody wrecked."
THIS WILL HURT YOU IN THE POINT STANDINGS. "Yeah, but we don't expect a lot out off restrictor-plate races. This is just a crapshoot. You just roll the dice and take what you get. We got wrecked at Daytona by somebody and got wrecked here by somebody, with good cars at both places. That's just restrictor-plate racing. We have to do it for the fans, and that's what they want to see."
IS THE PACK BUNCHED TOO TIGHTLY TOGETHER? "Yeah, and nothing they can do is going to fix it. It's unfixable. There is no way they can fix it."
SCOTT RIGGS-10-Nestle Nesquik Ford Taurus (Finished 19th)
WHAT DID YOU SEE? "I had a run on Kenny (Wallace) on the outside and I got about two or three feet on him there and he hit my front end and I had to check up and catch it and I did. I just got hit from behind. You can't check up when you run these kinds of speeds. I hate for all the guys on the Nesquik Ford Taurus. I had a good car and was just trying to run around. You can't do things like that that early."
IT LOOKED LIKE A PRETTY WILD RIDE. "Yeah, it was a pretty wild ride. I don't want to do a lot of those, but we're OK."
DID YOUR CAR GET LOOSE ENTERING THE CORNER? "No. Kenny in the 48 clipped into me in my front end and when he hit my front end, I got sideways and had to get out of the gas a little bit to catch it. When I did, Shane (Hmiel) hit me, and Shane said he got hit from behind also, so it's just a chain reaction."
"It was just a chain reaction. You're running this fast and running this close together. I had a run on the 48 there on the outside, and Kenny acted like he was going to start up and try to block me, and I think he didn't realize that I was too far up beside him, and he still came up and got into me. When he did, I just checked up a little bit, and I think that when I checked up, Shane said he tried to check up and he got hit front behind and he hit me, turned me in front of everybody and it was just a melee."
BOBBY HAMILTON, JR.-25-Team Marines Ford Taurus (Finished 22nd)
YOU WERE INVOLVED IN THE ACCIDENT NEAR THE BACK OF THE PACK. WHAT DID YOU SEE? "I didn't see anything but a lot of smoke. I just hit in the back. We got hit and it shoved us in the car in front of us. That's just the way it goes. That's why we didn't want to start back there where we did. I think that we got a top-25 finish, and that shouldn't take us too far down in the points. The race was getting the cars fixed in the garage and back on track because there were 20 of us all looking to make up track position."
DID IT TAKE LONGER TO GET THE CAR FIXED THAN YOU THOUGHT? "You've only got one shot to get it right, and we wanted to make sure that we got it fixed right because we wanted to run as many laps as we could once we got back on track and not just one or two."