A Battle Against Handling at Nashville Superspeedway (March 22, 2008) Lebanon, Tenn. -- A small on-track incident made a world of difference in the handling of the No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevrolet during Saturday ...
A Battle Against Handling at Nashville Superspeedway
(March 22, 2008) Lebanon, Tenn. -- A small on-track incident made a world of difference in the handling of the No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevrolet during Saturday afternoon's Pepsi 300. A third of the way into the 225-lap event, Keller got under the No. 7 car during a restart and damaged the front end of the No. 11 machine. The slight damage to the hood would wreak havoc on the handling for the remaining laps and Keller crossed the start/finish line in the 18th position.
The sixth race of the 2008 season marked a first for CJM Racing. This would be the first race in the team's history that a spot in the 43-car field was guaranteed. The stand-alone Nationwide Series team solidified their place in the point standings and the team held strong in the 18th position.
"We have always had that 'dark cloud' hanging over us every weekend. Having a guaranteed starting position should weather become a factor or something go awry with the car goes to show how much work we have put into this program. I don't know if people realize this but we made every race we attempted in the 2007 season and the beginning of 2008," Keller proudly remarked.
The cars unloaded and prepared for two practice sessions Friday afternoon. The No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevy was good but not perfect. The crew worked relentlessly the rest of the day trying to get the No. 11 machine to turn better. At the day's end, Keller posted the 16th quickest time at 30.180 seconds.
Saturday morning the crews awoke to sunny skies and the excitement began to build. With 45 cars attempting to make a 43 car field, qualifying got under way to solidify each team's place in the Pepsi 300. Keller took to the 1.33 mile track and placed the America's Incredible Pizza Company machine in the 25th position.
Just a few short hours later the green flagged waved and Keller prepared himself for 300-miles on one of his favorite tracks.
Almost immediately it became apparent that the handling was still an issue on the No. 11. Keller reported in during the first caution flag on lap eight, "the front end is not getting down." Knowing that it was too soon to pit, crew chief Todd Gordon kept the America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevy out on track to maintain valuable track position.
The first pit stop of the day would occur on lap 61 when the second caution flag waved for debris. The No. 11 Chevrolet Monte Carlo came down pit road for four tires, fuel, an air pressure adjustment and a rubber out of the left rear.
It was the restart on lap 64 that would alter the destiny of the America's Incredible Pizza Company race team. As the green flag displayed, Keller got under the No. 7 Toyota driven by Mike Wallace. Although not noticeable on track at 140 mph but very apparent up close, the race car received some damage to the hood which affected the handling and down force of the race car significantly.
"There was nothing we could do but make adjustments to try and compensate for the damage. The hood was pushed in in such a spot that we couldn't fix it. The team and Jason did a heck of job working with what we had," explained Todd (Gordon).
The America's Incredible Pizza Company race team made a total of three pit stops throughout the day and finished out the afternoon in the 18th position.