Phoenix II: Jason Keller race report

KELLER CONTINUES STRONG FINISH TO 2009 SEASON NASHVILLE, Tenn., Nov., 16, 2009 -- After going two laps down in the early stages of the Able Body Labor 200 at Phoenix International Raceway Saturday, Jason Keller battled his way back to the lead...

KELLER CONTINUES STRONG FINISH TO 2009 SEASON

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Nov., 16, 2009 -- After going two laps down in the early stages of the Able Body Labor 200 at Phoenix International Raceway Saturday, Jason Keller battled his way back to the lead lap and went on to finish 11th. For Keller, it was his sixth top-15 finish over the last eight races.

The Scott Tissue Ford Fusion was fast from the time the Kleenex Racing crew took it off the hauler. After ranking 11th in the first practice, Keller was fourth fastest in final practice, making his way around the mile track at a speed of 129.673 mph.

After starting the race from the 16th position, Keller picked up two spots before he brought the No. 27 car down pit road for the first time on lap 70 under green-flag conditions. The Kleenex Racing crew put four fresh tires on the Scott Tissue Ford Fusion, filled it with fuel and returned Keller to the track in 28th position, two laps down on lap 73.

Shortly after returning to the track, a debris caution occurred on lap 79 before many of the leaders had pitted. As the leaders took to pit road, Keller remained on the track and received the wave-around but still found himself one lap down in 23rd position when the race went back to green on lap 83.

Keller remained one lap down until a debris caution occurred on lap 152. He was the first car a lap down in the 15th position and received the "Lucky Dog." The veteran communicated to crew chief Todd Gordon that the car had gotten tighter and tighter as the race went along. When pit road opened, Keller brought his Scott Tissue Ford Fusion down pit road for an air pressure adjustment, four fresh tires and fuel.

When the race's final caution occurred on lap 157, Keller was running 13th. On lap 171 the veteran worked his way past rookie Trevor Bayne for 11th position and set his sights on 10th-place Steve Wallace. Keller's bumper seem attached to Wallace's rear end for the final 20 laps of the race but he couldn't manage to get the Scott Tissue Ford Fusion around Wallace.

"The Scott Tissue Ford was fast all weekend and if it wasn't for that caution coming out shortly after we pitted, we definitely would've had a top 10," Keller said. "We battled back and had a chance for a top 10 at the end but the 66 car just didn't make a mistake to open the door and we were all about the same speed."

Keller and the Kleenex Racing team head to Homestead-Miami Speedway Saturday for the running of the Ford 300 at 4:00 p.m. EDT on ESPN 2. Entering the final race of the season, Keller ranks eighth in the NASCAR Nationwide Series point standings, trailing seventh-place Steve Wallace by 29 points. The veteran has already secured his tenth top-10 finish in point standings after finishing outside the top 10 each of the last three seasons.

-credit: bcr

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Jason Keller , Trevor Bayne , Steve Wallace