VETERAN KELLER BRINGS HOME SEASON-BEST FINISH IN INAUGURAL IOWA RACE Moves Back Into 9th in Points with Sixth-Place Finish NASHVILLE, Tenn., August, 3, 2009 -- Having made the most career starts in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Jason Keller...
VETERAN KELLER BRINGS HOME SEASON-BEST FINISH IN INAUGURAL IOWA RACE
Moves Back Into 9th in Points with Sixth-Place Finish
NASHVILLE, Tenn., August, 3, 2009 -- Having made the most career starts in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Jason Keller heads into nearly every race having far more on-track experience than the majority of the drivers in the field. However, this was not the case Saturday for the inaugural Nationwide Series race at Iowa Speedway. With numerous lower-tier series having previously run at the speedway, many of the younger drivers came into the U.S. Cellular 250 with the upper-hand on Keller in terms of experience at the Rusty Wallace crafted short-track. In the end though, Keller taught the younger drivers a lesson in how to survive and advance, as he has done so many times throughout his career.
After starting the race in the 13th position, the series veteran did what he does best, kept the Cottonelle® Ford Fusion near the top 10. Keller avoided all 12 cautions and then made a late charge towards the front. When it was all said and done Keller had brought home a season-best sixth-place finish for the Kleenex® Racing team and moved back into ninth place in the NASCAR Nationwide Series point standings.
Keller was running in the 13th position when a caution occurred on lap 212. When the majority of cars in front of the No. 27 Cottonelle® Ford Fusion headed to pit road, crew chief Todd Gordon elected to take two tires, looking to gain valuable track position. Other lead-lap cars near the tail-end elected to remain on the track and Keller lined up 12th when the race resumed.
The final caution of the race occurred on lap 235 taking out three top 10 cars, including rookies Erik Darnell and Justin Allgaier, putting Keller eighth when the race resumed. Keller passed two more cars in the final 10 laps, including a high-side pass of rookie Scott Lagasse Jr, earning his best performance since finishing third at Gateway International Raceway in 2008.
"The fan support and atmosphere were awesome and the track allowed us to race two or three groves which provided for some exciting racing," Keller said. "It was really a great week for the Kleenex® Racing team and we really needed this. We ran well in both practices, qualified well and ended the week with our best finish of the season."
"With limited time on the track during regular practices and not being able to test it's tough to experiment and make changes," said Kleenex® Racing crew chief Todd Gordon. "We took advantage of the six-hour test session on Thursday to not only learn about Iowa but to work on some things to improve our downforce package. We made some major changes which helped us have a solid run this weekend and will make us stronger when we go back to some of the tracks for a second time this season."
After just two top-10 finishes last season, Keller has led the Kleenex® Racing team to six in 2009 and has Baker Curb Racing, currently 14th in owner points, ten spots ahead of their 2008 position after 21 races.