Solid Finish at Daytona for the America's Incredible Pizza Company Race Team (July 4, 2008) Daytona Beach, Fl. -- The NASCAR Nationwide Series headed into Daytona for their final superspeedway race of the season. The No. 11 America's Incredible...
Solid Finish at Daytona for the America's Incredible Pizza Company Race Team
(July 4, 2008) Daytona Beach, Fl. -- The NASCAR Nationwide Series headed into Daytona for their final superspeedway race of the season. The No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company race team had one goal in mind; to better their 36th place finish from the Spring Daytona race. The team did just that and was able to cross the finish line in the 18th position. The solid finish at the high banks of Daytona enabled the team to maintain their 10th place standing in driver points and advanced them one position in owner points to 14th.
Just past the halfway point of the Nationwide Series schedule the America's Incredible Pizza Company race team has made some great strides. Four months prior the team left the season-opener at Daytona 36th in owner and driver points due to a limited schedule in 2007 and with no track time on a superspeedway. A late race accident sent Keller to the garage with 10 laps remaining and relegated the team to a 36th place finish.
"Our season didn't start out the way we had hoped. We fell victim to a late race accident and had to park the America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevrolet for the remaining laps. A DNF the very first race is a hard deal," remarked Keller.
Since that very first race the changes at CJM Racing has been remarkable. The team signed America's Incredible Pizza Company as a long-term sponsor of the No. 11 and after a second outing at Daytona the team has gained 26 positions in the driver point standings with only 16 races left in the 2008 schedule.
"Heading back into Daytona we had hoped to redeem ourselves from our performance earlier in the season. We know we still have some work to do on our superspeedway program but I know we're better than a 30th place finish," stated Keller.
With that in mind, the crew was hard at work Thursday afternoon during practice trying to find that competitive edge over the 42 other race cars. Keller posted the 25th quickest time with 49.355 second run, 182.352 mph in first practice. After some major adjustments, the team's hopes of a final practice session were washed out as rain showers moved through the Central Florida area.
Friday, July 4th the Nationwide Series came back to the high banks of Daytona for qualifying and a 100-lap shoot out under the lights.
The America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevrolet started the Winn-Dixie 250 from the 27th position when the green flag fell that night. Keller stayed out of harms way and found some drafting partners to maneuver through the field with.
When the first caution flag was displayed on lap 13, Keller reported in, "I'm lacking rear grip on entry and tight center off." The concern over handling brought the No. 11 machine down pit road the following lap for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Keller restarted in the 23rd position on lap 17.
As green flag racing resumed the handling continued to be a problem on the America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevrolet. Another pit stop was made under caution on lap 31 for tires, fuel, an air pressure and wedge adjustment.
The No. 11 was displayed in the 22nd position on lap 34 and remained up in the top-20 for the next 65 laps until a sudden vibration in the right front caused Keller and the team to make an abrupt decision to head down pit road for fresh tires and fuel. The rest of the 42-car field followed suit under green flag conditions and took pit stops. The No. 11 race car sat in the 21st position with nine laps remaining.
In a last minute effort to gain track position, crew chief Todd Gordon called Keller to pit road one last time as the caution flag flew on lap 98. With four fresh tires and an aggressive track bar adjustment, Keller made his final charge to the front on the green-white-checkered restart. The America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevrolet moved up three positions on the restart and crossed the start/finish line in the 18th position.