Jason Keller (born May 23, 1970) is a NASCAR racing driver who currently drives the #27 Ford for Baker Curb Racing in the Nationwide Series. A mainstay in the Busch/Nationwide Series since his debut in 1991, he has made over 475 career starts, the highest in series history.
Early Beginnings Edit
Keller was born in Greenville, South Carolina and began his racing career on kart tracks, moving up to Late-Model Sportsman dirt-track racing at the age of 16. He drove the #57 Chevy owned by Jack Finley of Easley, South Carolina.
Keller made his Busch series debut in the 1991 May race at Lanier Speedway. He piloted the #54 Air Products Buick home in 29th after starting 8th.
Air Products would sponsor his family-owned team from 1991-1994, during that time using the numbers 54 and 45, before finally settling on the #57, a number Jason would use until the end of the 2003 season. Keller grabbed his first top-10 finish in his 7th start at the North Carolina Speedway in February 1993.
His first top-5 would come one year later in the fall race of 1994 at Dover Downs. 1994 would be his first full season, and he finished 17th that year in the points. He did miss a race that season, but up to December 1, 2005, Keller has not missed one since. He won three poles in 1994, his first career coming at Rougemont.
In 1995, Keller received backing from Budget Gourmet, and rewarded them by finishing 4th place in the standings. His first career win occurred in August, as he outpaced the field at Indianapolis Raceway Park. In addition, Keller had 6 top-5s and 12 top-10s that season.
Slim Jim came on board for the 1996 season. Keller secured another top-10 finish in points (6th) with a 10 top-10s season.
Keller struggled through 1997 and 1998, finishing 13th and 16th in the points respective years. He only had 4 top 5s and 17 top 10s in those two years. In 1998, Keller's family owned team had no decals on the car, and that forced the team to sell to the newly formed ppc Racing team.
Keller breaks out Edit
In 1999, with sponsorship from IGA, Keller won 3 poles (Spring Bristol, IRP, Richmond spring) and 2 wins at Bristol Motor Speedway (spring) and IRP. With 5 top 5s and 12 top 10s, Keller came home 8th in the standings.
In 2000, Keller's ppc team received funding from Excedrin. This began to this date, Keller's best streak in his career. In four years (2000-2003), Keller wrapped up 7 wins (one at Dover, two at Nazareth, one at Rockingham, one at Richmond, one at Milwaukee, and one at Talladega.) He won 4 BUSCH poles, and finished 2nd twice in the standings (2000 and 2002), 3rd (2001), and 5th (2003).
Keller has run 2 races in the Cup Series. In 2003, he drove the #01 U.S. Army for MB2/MBV Motorsports Pontiac home 32nd in the spring Richmond race, subbing for the just injured Jerry Nadeau, and 26th in the fall Talladega race in the #1 for DEI.
Drifting through the Seasons Edit
However, the #57 team lost Albertson's sponsorship at the end of 2003, and Miller High Life came on board, changing the team's number to 22. 2004 was not a bad year at all for Keller. However, he will tell you it was a struggle. He only had 6 top-5s and 12 top-10s in the year, finishing 6th.
Again without sponsorship, Keller left ppc Racing, and headed towards Team Rensi Motorsports's second operation sponsored by McDonald's. They struggled all year. Despite a 9th place finish in points, Keller was never competitive. He only had 1 top-5 all year (Talladega) and 6 top-10s. Keller signed with Phoenix Racing for 2006, but was released after just eight races.
Keller was consistent in the first eight races. He ran the #1 Miccosukee Dodge to a best finish of 11th at Daytona, but he was running 12th in points after the eighth race of the year. However, on April 18, 2006, Keller was released from the team in what many viewed as a "cheap shot" from Finch. He was replaced by Mike Wallace. Keller would then try to race the #34 Frank Cicci Racing Chevy at Richmond, but he did not qualify and declined further rides with the team. Instead, Brewco Motorsports hired Keller to qualify and practice Greg Biffle's #66 Ford for select races when Biffle was working on his Nextel Cup Series team. Keller did a good job, and Brewco rewarded Keller with a race at ORP. Keller ran in the top-five for the first half of his 400th career start, but a mid race spin dropped Keller to 15th in the rundown. Keller will drive part time for Brewco Motorsports, sharing their #27 with NEXTEL Cup driver Ward Burton, as well as a part-time scheudle for CJM Racing. On October 12, 2007 Keller broke Tommy Houston's record for most career starts in the Busch Series with his 418th appearance. He also holds the record for most Busch Series earnings with over $11M (USD). As for 2008 Keller will run for #11 CJM Racing Chevrolet in the Nationwide Series full time with sponsorship from America's Incredible Pizza Company Keller will also attempt some possible races in the #98 Gillett Evernham Motorsports Dodge Charger in the Nascar Sprint Cup series. Keller tested the #98 at Daytona Preseason thunder Testing. Keller was released from CJM racing in September during the off week after the fall Richmond race and replaced by Scott Lagasse Jr.. He then signed with Baker Curb Racing to drive the #27 Ford Fusion through the rest of 2008 and 2009.
- ↑ Nationwide Series at a crossroads - ESPN.com, 7/8/09
- ↑ Baker Curb Racing newcomer Keller just glad to be working