Keller leads PPC sweep of front row

By Jeff Birchfield
STAR Staff

   BRISTOL - Jason Keller edged his PPC Racing teammate Scott Riggs Thursday afternoon to win the pole for tonight's Food City 250 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
   It was Keller's ninth career pole and his second at the .533-mile high-banked oval, following a number one effort back in the spring race in 1999. "It was a fast race track," said Keller. "I thought drawing early for qualifying may have heard us. My PPC teammate is on the front row, so it's pretty good."
   Keller's winning speed was 124.428 miles per hour, four tenths of a second faster than Riggs. Behind the two Fords, was the Chevrolet of Michael Waltrip, the series most recent winner.
   Fourth place went to two-time defending race champion Kevin Harvick, with Jamie McMurray back in fifth. Jeff Green, winner here of the Channelock 250 race back in the spring took the sixth starting spot.
   PPC Racing swept the Busch Series qualifying efforts at BMS this season, as Riggs won the pole position back in March. "I guess I told my teammate a little too much," said Riggs. "Jason had a great car. We knew that we were going to be pretty good in qualifying. We never had a chance to have a good shakedown in practice. There were so many cars running out there.
   "We kept making changes. I thought we had a shot at the pole and we did. It's great for PPC to have the front row here at Bristol. My hats is off to all those guys. They're a great bunch of guys to work with."
   Focus shifted to the NASCAR Busch Series championship, thanks in large part to Keller's strong effort and the fact he only trails Keller by 56 points going into tonight's race.
   "I've said it all week long that you can gain 100 points here, but you could lose them just as fast," said Keller. "It's going to be tough. I was running second in the spring and got involved with a lapped car. It doesn't matter where you start, accidents can find you and they do find you.
   "You can't points race at Bristol. We need to focus on our race car. I knew the first lap on the track we had a fast race car. It was nice to unload a car like that."
   Local entries had an up and day in qualifying. The Bristol Motorsports team with Kevin Grubb had an 18th place effort and Bristol driver Brad Baker made a 27th place run. Brad Teague wasn't fast enough on time, but will be in the field through a provisional start. Blountville's Butch Jarvis failed in his attempt to make his Busch debut at BMS, the 47th fastest of 49 cars.
   Time trials were delayed for two and a half hours due to a frightening accident earlier in the day involving Mike Harmon and Johnny Sauter. Both drivers came back from the accident to make it in the Food City 250 field. Harmon failed to make a qualifying attempt and will use a provisional to enter the field. Sauter takes the green flag from the 17th spot, but will have to drop to the back of the field after his team changed engines from earlier.
   Scott Weaver, of Shelby, NC was declared the winner of Wednesday's Pabst Blue Ribbon 150 for the Goody's Dash Series at Bristol Motor Speedway, NASCAR officials announced on Thursday afternoon.
   Robert Huffman crossed the finish line first, ahead of Weaver's Pontiac, but a last lap incident betwen Huffman and Jake Hobgood prompted further review by NASCAR officials. Huffman was assessed a time penalty which relegated him to ninth in the final rundown.