Milwaukee: Jason Keller race report

Back-to-Back Top-10 Finishes for Keller and CJM Racing Leaving Milwaukee (June 21, 2008) West Allis, WI. -- The No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevrolet proved to be a strong contender right from the start at the historic Milwaukee...

Back-to-Back Top-10 Finishes for Keller and CJM Racing Leaving Milwaukee

(June 21, 2008) West Allis, WI. -- The No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevrolet proved to be a strong contender right from the start at the historic Milwaukee Mile. Keller qualified the No. 11 machine in the fourth position and then followed that up with a ninth place finish. The solid finish marks the second top-10 finish in a row and the third for the team this season.

A solid race car and a driver with a record for success at the Milwaukee Mile made for a great combination at the historic race track. Keller came into Milwaukee with the most starts at the mile facility at 14 and with an average finishing position of 13th. In his last five starts, Keller has not finished outside of the top 13.

Saturday was a day full of racing excitement as the NASCAR Nationwide Series held practice, qualifying and the race all in one day.

Practice commenced first thing in the morning and the No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevrolet posted the 11th quickest time with a time of 30.308 seconds, 118.781 mph. In the second and final practice session, the No. 11 team opted to work on race trim and forego a mock qualifying run. Keller posted the 27th quickest time with 30.778 seconds, 118.967 mph.

Despite not making a mock qualifying run, Keller was confident as qualifying got underway. The America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevy rolled out onto the track eighth and immediately posted the fastest lap with a 29.883 second run. Unfortunately the time would not withstand the 40 other cars that took to the track after Keller and the team would have to settle for a fourth place qualifying effort.

Darkness descended down on the Milwaukee Mile and the lights came on as 43-drivers buckled in for 250-laps. Keller took the green flag in the fourth position and only gave up a few spots when he radioed in on lap 18, "I'm starting to lack rear grip. The front-end is beginning to slide across the track."

Knowing it was too early to pit, crew chief Todd Gordon kept the America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevy out on track until another caution flag flew on lap 54. It was then that the No. 11 race car came down pit road for the first of five pit stops. After a slight air pressure adjustment, four fresh tires and some fuel; Keller rejoined the field in the 10th position.

The struggles with rear grip continued over the course of the next 100 laps. Keller held his ground and never fell below the 11th place position. Two pit stops were made on laps 86 and 150 to help with the lack of grip and ranged from air pressure adjustments to track bar.

The changes made a significant change to the handling of the race car and Keller reported in, "I'm way too free" on lap 164. For fear of losing track position due to a free handling race car, Gordon called Keller to pit road under caution on lap 166 for a quick splash of fuel and a track bar adjustment.

Restarting in the 15th position, Keller was able to gain five positions by lap 202. The adjustments over the course of the race proved beneficial as Keller reported in, "the car is good. No more changes are needed."

The leaders, along with Keller, pitted one more time on lap 206 for new Goodyear tires and a splash of fuel. The No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevy found itself in the 13th position on the restart and Keller made his final charge to the front. Within five laps of green flag racing, the No. 11 was securely back in the top-10 and would finish out the evening in the ninth position.

"What a great night. Another top-10 finish for the America's Incredible Pizza Company race team. This team has worked so hard and it's great to see these results," exclaimed Keller.

The NASCAR Nationwide Series heads up north to Loudon, NH next week to compete in the Camping World RV Sales 200. Look for all the action as it airs live on ABC at 2:30 pm (EST) on Saturday, June 28th.

-credit: cjm

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Jason Keller