Keller found his way back to Victory Lane By Brett Borden
Los Angeles (Jan. 4, 2000) Jason Keller finished eighth in the standings, his third time to be on stage at the Busch Series banquet.
If you're going to have a grocery store as a sponsor, you better figure out how to bring home the bacon.
Jason Keller figured it out - twice - on his way to an eighth-place finish in the final NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division point standings in 1999. Keller took the No. 57 Fleming Team/IGA Chevrolet to Victory Lane both at Bristol Motor Speedway and at Indianapolis Raceway Park. The victory at IRP was his second there.
Keller's high-water mark in the point standings came after that Bristol win in the eighth race of the season. He climbed all the way up to third in the standings at that point, capping off a six-week span in which his average finish was 7.66. A 40th-place finish the following week at Talladega Superspeedway, however, was indicative of the ups-and-downs that kept him from being a top-5 contender in the points.
Keller made the top-10 12 times in 1999, but also failed to make the top-25 in 13 of 32 starts, including five of the last six races. His final numbers were very similar to what he posted in 1995, when he racked up one victory (his only victory before 1999), six top-5s and 12 top-10s. He finished 1999 with one less top-5, but one more top-10 than he had in '95.
Aside from his two victories, Keller came close at Nashville (third), Watkins Glen (fifth) and Gateway International Raceway (fifth). He also won Bud Poles at Bristol, Richmond and IRP. Qualifying was definitely one of his strengths in 1999, as his average start was 13th.
Keller has been racing in the NASCAR Busch Series full-time now for six seasons. He has 19 top-5s in 189 career starts in the series. Keller's best season to date in his NASCAR Busch Series career was 1995, when he won three Bud Poles on his way to a fourth-place finish in the point standings. After stumbling to sixth in 1996, 13th in 1997 and 16th in 1998, he reversed an unwanted trend with a strong performance this year.
After being reunited with familiar crew chief Steve Addington, Keller and teammate Jeff Green formed a formidable two-car team at Progressive Motorsports in 1999. With Green coming back as one of the favorites to win the NASCAR Busch Series championship in 2000, Keller looks to make a run for it himself as a co-favorite based on momentum and experience.