WHEATLAND, MO. (Feb. 17, 2021) – Doug Keller might not have been your typical “Rookie of the Year” in the USRA Stock Car division last year, being 48 years old with a wealth of racing experience under his belt.
Keller had a successful stretch in B-Mods before giving the full-bodied Stock Car class a whirl. Long before that, the St. Joseph, Missouri, driver had extensive experience on a national level, starting 17 NASCAR Truck Series races from 2001-03 and 25 ARCA races from 1998-2009, with three top-five finishes.
Keller wasted little time making an impact in the Stock Cars, winning 20 races and finishing second in USRA national points in 2020. One of his wins came at Lucas Oil Speedway last June as the USRA Stock Cars appeared as a guest class during a mid-week program headlined by USMTS Modifieds.
Now that the O’Reilly USRA Stock Cars are part of the Big Adventure RV Weekly Racing Series, look for Keller more often in Wheatland. While he’s not committed to running for weekly or national points, the veteran who’s a year removed from being a “rookie” doesn’t rule it out, either.
“My biggest concern about chasing (Lucas Oil Speedway) points … I don’t know what the competition will be,” Keller said of past Street Stock competitors who are making the switch to Stock Cars. “It might be wishful thinking to come to a new track and run with a bunch of guys with experience there … but the only way to know is to try it.”
Keller also has an eye on preparing for the Summit USRA Nationals Presented by MyRacePass, a three-night extravaganza coming to Lucas Oil Speedway for the first time Oct. 7-9.
After leading national points late into the 2020 season, Keller’s finishes of 10th, 15th and 3rd at last year’s USRA Nationals at Hamilton County Speedway relegated him to second behind Mitch Hovden of Decorah, Iowa.
“That Iowa dirt was weird, it was black,” Keller said. “I couldn’t tell if it was slick or tacky. It was a challenge. Maybe the Missouri boys will have a little advantage at the nationals this year.”
Keller is set to begin the season with an ungraded program, which included two race cars and a new multi-car hauler. He said inspiration for that came partly from his trip to Lucas Oil Speedway last June and viewing all the sharp USMTS haulers in the pit area.
“We pulled in with a dually pickup and the car on a flat bed with four spare tires and that was it,” he said. “We won the race and the USMTS guys thought that was cool, but to me it was stressful.
“I’ve raced about 42, 43 years and have a lot of stuff. To leave all your stuff at home kind of sucks. You don’t have it because you don’t have room for it. So we bit the bullet and bought a semi with a multi-car hauler.”
Keller said he’s considering using the new equipment to make a weekend swing of it through south-central Missouri, racing on Friday nights at Dallas County Speedway in Urbana and Lucas Oil Speedway, about a half-hour to the west on Saturday.
“We can have a car for Dallas County on Friday and have the other car ready for Lucas on Saturday. If I have any damage or maintenance, I don’t have to work all day Saturday to get the (Friday) car ready ready. Or, we might run same car both places. But it will be nice have the option.”
Keller said the other option is to also race some at I-35 in Winston, where he won 20 times in 2020.
“But that’s like a 32 or 33-night schedule. That’s too much for us,” he said, with a laugh. “The Lucas 14-race schedule looked really appealing.”
He’s also on the entry list for the Stock Car race in late March at Bristol Motor Speedway’s high banks in east Tennessee but is on the fence about whether to go or not.
“I have mixed emotions about that deal. It looks like a lot of fun, but if I went and smoked my good car and good motor, I could be behind the 8-ball before the season starts at the local or (USRA) national level. So, we’ll see.”
Keller said various people help him at the track, when they’re available, with wife Samantha a constant. Sponsors from last year include Dickson Construction, Bridgeman’s Wrecker Service, Keller Body Shop, Integrity Auto Glass, S&H Motors and Preferred Exterminators.
The 2021 Lucas Oil Speedway season is set to begin March 27 with an Open Test & Tune. The Big Adventure Weekly Racing Series Spring Opener Presented by Benne Media is set for April 3 with the Missouri Metal Buildings ULMA Late Models in the spotlight with a $1,000-to-win main event sponsored by HICKAMO Country Store.
The Weekly Racing Series includes 14 events, from opening night through the Rempfer Memorial Season Championship on Aug. 28, which crowns season champions. Competing classes include Cedar Creek Beef Jerky USRA Modifieds, Missouri Metal Buildings ULMA Late Models, Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mods and O’Reilly Auto Parts USRA Stock Cars.
For ticket information for any event during the 2021 Lucas Oil Speedway season, contact Admissions Director Nichole McMillan at (417) 282-5984 or via email at Nichole@lucasoilspeedway.com. Fans also can use the online ticketing system.