KELLER RUNS WELL EARLY BUT FINISHES 25TH AT ORP NASHVILLE, Tenn., July, 27, 2009 -- It was a tale of two races for Jason Keller in the Kroger 200 at O'Reilly Raceway Park Saturday. In the first 100 laps of the race Keller, a two-time winner of...
KELLER RUNS WELL EARLY BUT FINISHES 25TH AT ORP
NASHVILLE, Tenn., July, 27, 2009 -- It was a tale of two races for Jason Keller in the Kroger 200 at O'Reilly Raceway Park Saturday. In the first 100 laps of the race Keller, a two-time winner of the race, marched from the 18th position into the top five and led four laps. After getting out of pit sequence with the leaders during the second half of the race, the Kroger Hands Ford Fusion slowly drifted towards the middle of the pack falling as many as three laps down. Keller went on to finish the race 25th.
Keller moved his way into the top 10 by lap 30 and was running fifth when a caution occurred on lap 49. While the majority of cars remained on the track the Kleenex® Racing team elected to bring the Kroger Hands Ford Fusion down pit road and the crew put four fresh tires on and filled it with fuel.
After taking the restart from the 28th position Keller had made his way back up to 18th when the next caution occurred on lap 92. While the leaders pitted the Kleenex® Racing team chose to remain on the track and Keller led four laps under caution. When the race went back to green on lap 97 Keller began being passed by cars on the lead lap with fresh tires. The No. 27 Kroger Hands Ford Fusion had fallen to 24th when Keller was passed by race leader Carl Edwards on lap 125, putting him one lap down.
Keller was forced to pit under green flag conditions for fuel on lap 159 and fell three laps down to the leaders. When a caution occurred on lap 169 the leaders pitted while the race was under caution and Keller remained three laps down.
"We definitely would have liked to have a better finish for the 34 kids and their families from Riley Hospital for Children who had their handprints on our Kroger Hands Ford Fusion," Keller said. "We took a gamble getting out of pit sequence in hopes of having fresh tires to make a run at the end of the race. Unfortunately the race stayed green a lot longer then we expected and we ended up losing a few laps, ultimately not getting the finish that this car was capable of."
Keller, who currently is 10th in the NASCAR Nationwide Series point standings, and the Kleenex® Racing team head to Iowa Speedway Saturday for the running of the U.S. Cellular 250 at 4:00 p.m. EDT on ESPN.