Charlotte II: Jason Keller race report

Keller Escapes Early Accident with Minimal Damage, Finishes 17th NASHVILLE, Tenn., Oct., 19, 2009 - Jason Keller escaped a three-car accident in the early stages of the Dollar General 300 at Lowe's Motor Speedway with minimal damage and went on...

Keller Escapes Early Accident with Minimal Damage, Finishes 17th

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Oct., 19, 2009 - Jason Keller escaped a three-car accident in the early stages of the Dollar General 300 at Lowe's Motor Speedway with minimal damage and went on to record his fifth consecutive top-20 finish. Keller relinquished seventh place in the NASCAR Nationwide point standings to race runner-up Mike Bliss, but gained 42 points on sixth place Steve Wallace, closing the gap to 28 points.

After touring the mile and a half quad-oval at a speed of 181.421 mph (29.765) during Friday's qualifying session, Keller started the race from the 19th position. In the races early laps, he fell back to the 18th position and on lap 14 was caught up in a three-car incident on the frontstretch. Reed Sorenson touched the wall causing Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to check-up in front of the No. 27 Kleenex® Ford Fusion. With no-time to react, Keller made contact with the Stenhouse Jr's rear bumper, sending the rookie crashing into the wall.

With cleanup taking place on the fronstretch, the field proceeded down pit-road under caution allowing crew chief Todd Gordon to get a closer look at the damage caused to the front of the Kleenex® Ford Fusion. When pit-road opened, the Kleenex® Racing crew attended to the minimal damage on the hood of the No. 27 and sent Keller back to the track with a full tank of fuel.

When the race went back to green flag conditions on lap 21, Keller restarted from 35th. He slowly worked his way back through the field during a long green flag run, making his way back into the top 20 on lap 57. As many of the cars that did not pit during the first caution began making their way down pit road, the veteran had worked his way into the top 10 when the race's second caution occurred on lap 64.

Keller communicated to crew chief Todd Gordon that the car was neutral entering the turns but tight exiting. The Kleenex® Racing crew made an air pressure adjustment, put four fresh tires on Keller's Ford, filled it with fuel and sent the Greenville, S.C., native back to the track in the 9th position.

As the race continued on, Keller battled a car that became loose entering the corners and quickly fell out of the top 10. On lap 125 while running 15th, he surrendered a lap to race leader Kyle Busch. During the final 75 laps, the Kleenex® Racing crew made several adjustments to the No. 27 Kleenex Ford Fusion to try and give the car more rear grip in the corners to enable Keller to make his way back into the top 15. The adjustments loosened the front end of the car and Keller spent the majority of the last 50 laps running right where he would finish, 17th.

"Charlotte has always been my Achilles heel, so 17th is a decent finish," Keller said. "I thought we were going to be a lot better before we got banged up a little, but we continued to race hard all night and brought home another top 20."

Keller and the Kleenex® Racing team remain in the state of Tennessee this week as the NASCAR Nationwide Series heads to Memphis Motorsports Park for the running of the Kroger on Track for the Cure 250.

-credit: bcr

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Jason Keller , Mike Bliss , Reed Sorenson , Ricky Stenhouse Jr. , Steve Wallace , Kyle Busch