Perfect Timing: Keller To Surpass $11 Million In Series Sponsor Hometown DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 17, 2007) -- Listen closely. It's not a roar -- far from it. It's not a bang. It's hardly a pop. It's a quiet sound, yet one that reverberates ...
Perfect Timing: Keller To Surpass $11 Million In Series Sponsor Hometown
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 17, 2007) -- Listen closely. It's not a roar -- far from it. It's not a bang. It's hardly a pop. It's a quiet sound, yet one that reverberates within the NASCAR Busch Series.
"It" is yet another all-time mark about to fall by the wayside compliments of Jason Keller (No. 27 Huggies Ford) -- the first series driver to surpass $9, $10 and by this weekend, $11 million in winnings. But who knew?
The soft-spoken Keller is the king of quiet accomplishments. He's a 17-year veteran, 12 of those seasons have been spent in a full-time capacity. He's run a limited schedule the last two years, but this season he's in a combination of rides with Brewco Motorsports and CJM Racing with the expectation of returning to full-time competition once again next season.
But the 37-year-old native of Greenville, S.C., has plenty of racing to do yet in 2007. And as the NASCAR Busch Series makes its way to Gateway International Raceway, home of 26-year sponsor Busch Beer and parent company Anheuser-Busch, perhaps there's no better representative to break a coveted mark and move one step closer to another milestone.
If his current schedule holds, Keller will become the series' all-time starts leader in October at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
The record of 417 starts was set by Tommy Houston from 1982-96. Keller became just the second driver to record 400 starts when he did so last August at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis.
Keller, who seeks his first career win at Gateway, is $1,284 shy of the $11 million mark.
My Hometown: Wallaces, Edwards Return To Familiar Territory
Since 1999, the NASCAR Busch Series race at Gateway International Raceway has had two things in common -- exciting finishes and at least one native son in the field.
Saturday night's race will be no different as the St. Louis-based Wallace clan -- brothers Kenny (No. 21 Jimmy John's Chevrolet) and Mike (No. 7 GEICO Chevrolet) along with their nephew Steve (No. 66 HomeLife Communities Dodge) converge on their hometown track.
Another Missouri native, Columbia's Carl Edwards (No. 60 Dish Network Ford) will be making his third consecutive appearance and fourth overall at Gateway. This time he comes home as the defending race winner and series standings leader.
Mike Wallace can make the biggest splash of his season to date at home on Saturday. The veteran was 19th in the standings seven races ago but is now 11 points from 10th place. He spent seven consecutive weeks in the top 10 earlier this season.
Steve Wallace is in his first full season in the series and is ranked 19th in the standings while Kenny Wallace -- who recently took over as Steve's spotter -- is making his second start of the year in the NASCAR Busch Series.
Kenny served as a relief driver last February at California Speewday for David Gilliland, who had become ill. This weekend, he will start for Richard Childress Racing in the No. 21 car normally driven by reigning series champion Kevin Harvick, who won last Saturday at Chicagoland Speedway.
In The Loop: Gateway A Site For Sor - enson's Eyes In Attempt To Snap 60-Race Winless String
Reed Sorenson (No. 41 Wrigley's Juicy Fruit Dodge) circled and starred this NASCAR Busch Series weekend on his calendar.
Both of Sorenson's trips to Gateway International Raceway have resulted in top-five finishes, the last of which was a win -- and also happens to be his most recent series victory dating back to his last 60 races.
Sorenson collected one of his two career NASCAR Busch Series wins at Gateway (the other was at Nashville Superspeedway) in 2005. And last year, he came close to repeating, settling for a fourth-place finish.
His stats over the past two years are likewise impressive. He leads all drivers in pre-race Driver Rating at 127.1, has the fourth-best Average Running Position at 4.8, has more Fastest Laps Run than any other driver with 59 and has spent all but three laps in the top 15 (397 total).
In his four previous trips to the Madison, Ill., track, Scott Wimmer (No. 29 Holiday Inn Chevrolet) has also performed well. He has three top 10s and last year he finished sixth -- his best finish of the season.
In that race, Wimmer ran all 200 laps in the top 15, earned a Driver Rating of 110.6, had an Average Running Position of 4.5 and collected 13 Fastest Laps Run.
Standings leader Carl Edwards will likely have a good chance to increase his lead over reigning series champion Kevin Harvick. For one, Harvick isn't entered this weekend. But that may not matter, as Edwards has excelled at his home track in recent years at Gateway.
Edwards is the defending winner of this race and finished third at Gateway in 2005. Over the past two years, Edwards has a Driver Rating of 122.7 (third-best), an Average Running Position of 5.7 (fifth-best), 57 Fastest Laps Run (second-most) and 357 Laps in the Top 15 (fourth-most).