BUSCH: Keller and Addington: 15 years together
15 Years Of Friendship And Success- Jason Keller And Steve Addington Jason Keller And Steve Addington Share A Special Bond In The NASCAR Busch Series CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- Jason Keller and Steve Addington share one unique quality ... loyalty.
15 Years Of Friendship And Success- Jason Keller And Steve Addington
Jason Keller And Steve Addington Share A Special Bond In The NASCAR Busch Series
CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- Jason Keller and Steve Addington share one unique quality ... loyalty. While their road to success has not been easy, 2002 marks their 10th full season together as driver and crew chief and sixth season together in the NASCAR Busch Series.
Keller and Addington both began their respective careers racing on the short tracks of South Carolina. Keller was just 15 years old when he began competing in Late Model Sportsman Dirt cars, but in another pit was his fiercest competition in crew chief Steve Addington.
"Steve's team was beating us week after week," said Keller. "So I went over to him and hired him to help me out. That was 1988, and a year later he became the first full-time employee of Kel Racing."
In 1990 the two moved to the old NASCAR Winston All-American Challenge where Keller not only finished fourth in the overall standings, but captured rookie of the year honors as well. The following year it was on to the NASCAR Slim Jim All-Pro Series where Keller and Addington racked up four wins and topped the series in the number of laps led during the season. They finished third in the standings.
"Back in those days we spent every day together, we were like brothers," said Addington. "Since I was his only full-time employee, I was responsible for preparing the car, loading the truck and driving the truck to the track. It would have been tough to do if it wasn't for my relationship with Jason."
The pair entered their first NASCAR Busch Series race in 1991 at Lanier Raceway in Georgia. Keller qualified the car in the top 10 and went on to finish 29th, earning $575. Three years later, they ran their first full season in the Busch Series capturing three poles with one each at Richmond, Myrtle Beach and Orange County Speedway in Roughmont.
The more successful their team became, the tougher it was on Keller and Addington's relationship. Keller was trying to run Kel racing and drive competitively against the likes of Johnny Benson, Steve Park and David Green. The two eventually parted ways in 1996.
"The reason we split up had nothing to do with our relationship as driver and crew chief, but rather the pressure I was under as a team owner," said Keller. "I regret that decision to this very day, but the end result has been for the best. Fortunately, it led us to where we are today at ppc Racing.
"Once Steve left, I didn't achieve the same success on the track. Eventually I sold my team to Greg Pollex and began driving for him in 1998. I went through a couple of good crew chiefs, but in my heart and mind I knew that to achieve the success I wanted, it would take Steve."
Meanwhile, Addington couldn't find his niche away from Keller either. He spent their two-year separation with different teams, but couldn't find the chemistry he had with Keller.
"It was a long two years," said Addington. "I worked for about four or five different teams including the Petty's Busch car, Mike Cope's Craftsman Truck team and with driver Shane Hall. They just weren't what I was looking for or wanted. When Harold Holly called me at the end of the 1998 season, he said they were starting a second team and Jason wanted me to be his crew chief. I don't think I hesitated before I said yes."
The 2002 season marks their third season together at ppc Racing. In that time Keller has finished in the top five in points two consecutive years. This year their Albertson's team is a favorite for the Busch Series championship, a title Addington and Keller have been chasing since the early '90s.
"I don't think I would be where I am without Steve," said Keller. "We basically grew up together, from a personal standpoint and a racing standpoint. Our success in the Busch Series has been due to our respect for one another. Not too long ago we were young and wild running around South Carolina like we owned it, today we're contending for a NASCAR championship."
With two top-five finishes, including a win at Rockingham, the dynamic duo is well on their way to achieving a goal set over 15 years ago.
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