Plenty of changes since  Keller's lone Bristol win


Jason Keller

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR STAFF
mbirchfield@starhq.com

   Back in the spring of 1999, Jason Keller earned his first and only Bristol Busch Series win, but since then he's come up just shy of victory lane.
   "There's been so much that has changed since then, and the changes for winning are much more difficult for us now," said Keller.
   Keller opened the 2004 season with a new sponsorship, with the car having the same kind of paint scheme as the legendary Bobby Allison No. 22 Miller High Life Buick.
   "A lot of people relate to it when Bobby Allison had it in the early '80s and had a lot of success," said Keller.
   Jason entered the season with a new crew chief, which he looks to bond with as the year goes on.
   "We haven't had that good of a year so far by any means, but we have been consistent," said Keller. "Our new crew chief Wes Ward is new to me, so the success we've had is really nice and I think we'll continue to grow."
   Keller edged out Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the Moore's Snack 250 back in 1999, as that is certainly his most memorable moment at Bristol.
   "I remember passing Dale Jr. in the Busch race in '99, and by far that's the best we've been here," said Keller. "A lot of things have changed since then, but it's still nice to reminisce about it."
   The biggest challenge for all the guys is track position, but it's not necessarily important to start up front as Bristol sometimes shows no mercy on anyone.
   After finishing third last year in the spring race and second in the fall of 2000, Keller has had trouble getting the breaks he needs for victory.
   "I was running second here a couple of year ago, and then I got into some lap cars, so I don't care if you're in front or back, the accidents can find you," said Keller.
   In Thursday's practice session, Keller said his team is focused more on qualifying rather than race trim.
   "This is such a track position race track, and not just because the Cup guys are running, but all the guys are hard to pass," said Keller.
   Jason has set on the pole at Bristol on three separate occasions, as he rolled off first in the last two Food City 250s.
   "We're going to do some qualifying runs, which is something we don't normally do," he said. "We'll look at that this afternoon, and try to figure out how we can qualify the car as good as possible."
   Not saying you can't come from back and win at Bristol, but your chances for success are much greater if you can avoid being stuck toward the rear off the field.
   "At this place here, if you qualify yourself in the back, then you better get real lucky to get you up front, or one bad pit-stop can make things go bad here," said Keller.
   Everyone is looking to break last year's mark of 126.495 mph. set by David Green in the spring of 2003, as the new softer tire by NASCAR should make things faster.
   "This new tire really goes fast, and that's one reason that we want to concentrate on some things," said Keller. "It gives you a different feel, but it's got a lot of speed to it."
   As far as the moment, Keller has no intentions of stepping up to the next level with the Cup Series.
   He seems to be content with the success he's enjoyed in the Busch Series so far.
   "This is my 10th year in the series full-time, so it's kind of like home to me," said Keller. "A lot of people have used this series as a stepping stone, but I never have.
   "I've had a lot of success and beat a lot of drivers and won races, so it's been good to me."