By Toby Christie (Originally appeared on RubbingsRacing.com)
It is a journey that began way back in 1991, but this week Jason Keller could be making his 500th career start in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. I say could be, because his new start-up team is outside the top 30 in owner points which means that Keller will have to make the race on speed in qualifying.
However the good news for Keller is that he was in the exact same situation last week at Darlington, and he was able to just squeak into the field qualifying 43rd by just .021 of a second… hopefully he can get into the race at Dover a little more solidly, but I’m pretty sure he’ll take start No. 500 any way he can get it.
Just to give you insight into how long of a journey this has been for Keller, his first career start in the NASCAR Nationwide Series came at Lanier Speedway. If you are wondering why it doesn’t sound familiar, it’s because that track hasn’t been on the NASCAR circuit since 1992. That day Jason Keller started eighth, but a crash relegated him to a 29th-place finish. David Green won that day, and a young up-and-coming driver named Jeff Gordon finished second.
Keller has seen several names come and go through the ranks of the NASCAR Nationwide Series over the past 20 years, but along the way he has become one of the constants in the Series. Keller has put together a reputation as the Nationwide Series “Iron Man”, as he has the most career starts in Series history at 499 starts… The next highest on the list is Kenny Wallace with 463 starts. That being said, I think it’s safe to say that Keller’s record will be intact as long as he stays in the sport.
It’s been a fun ride for Keller thus far, as he has racked up 10-career victories in his NASCAR Nationwide Series career, also he has finished second in the year end point standings twice (2000, 2002) despite never running for a Sprint Cup affiliated Nationwide team. Keller has also showed this season that if he gets into the event, he’s still a threat to win as he finished fourth at Talladega.