Mason Keller has turned plenty of laps at Winchester Speedway over the years, and has even won at the famed half-mile in a JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour event during the World Stock Car Festival in 2018.
However, there’s not much Keller has done in racing to prepare him for the challenge he is undertaking this weekend. The Indianapolis, Indiana native will attempt triple duty during Winchester 400 weekend, culminating with his first appearance in the Winchester 400.
If all goes to plan, Keller will complete 550 laps of feature racing over the course of the weekend. Keller will look for another Pro Late Model win at Winchester on Friday before making his Modified debut in the Run for the Gun 50 on Saturday. The weekend closes with the 49th Running of the Winchester 400 presented by JEGS, as Keller continues his first season in Super Late Models.
Keller’s preparations are already underway as he gets ready for a grueling weekend of racing.
“I’m trying to hydrate right and eat right, make sure I’m good and healthy going into the weekend,” Keller told Speed51. “I feel pretty confident about all three of the cars so far.”
Keller will be among the favorites in the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour event on Friday, October 9. He is a former winner at Winchester in the Pro Late Models, one of his favorite places to race.
“It seems like every year we do something big at Winchester. Last year, we broke track record. The year before, we won the race. I don’t know what we’ll do this year, but hopefully it’ll be something cool to add to the list.
“It’s a blast running the Pro Late around Winchester. It’s on edge all the time. You’re not off the gas very long, so it’s a fun deal. I’m excited to be back.”
While Keller has that body of experience in a Pro Late Model at Winchester, he will be making his first start in a Modified in the Run for the Gun 50.
“The other day, when I went to [Brian Nester’s] shop, it was my first time sitting in a Modified. This will be my first time running one. It’s going to be different than a Late Model, 1000 percent.”
Keller initially hoped to make the Modified debut during the World Stock Car Festival at Winchester over Labor Day weekend. While that event was cancelled, Keller kept a deal together to instead make the debut during Winchester 400 weekend.
“I don’t know what got into me, but earlier in the year I off-the-wall decided I wanted to run a Modified at some point. I thought the Labor Day event at Winchester would be a good time to do it. A mutual friend hooked me up with Brian Nester, and surprisingly he was all for it.
“That eventually got canceled, so I threw it away because I wasn’t originally that interested in running the JEGS race, a Modified race and then the 400. My guys talked me into it, and I hit Brian back up to see if he’d still be interested in the Mod deal for the 400 weekend, and he was ready to go.”
Keller hopes his previous experience at Winchester in CRA Street Stocks will translate well to the Midwest Modifieds Tour machine.
“I grew up running a Street Stock, the first five or six years of my racing career. It’ll hopefully be a little like that. That is my guess, a bit more of a stock-clip car with less tire and more motor. It might take some getting used to at first, since I have been out of those cars for a bit, but it shouldn’t be nothing I can’t adapt to.
“If I were anywhere but Winchester, I’d probably be screwed. With the number of laps I’ve run there, I’ve been running there a long time, so hopefully that will help us get used to the car.”
With a busy weekend already planned, Keller admits to some trepidation ahead of his Winchester 400 debut. However, he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to participate in the crown jewel event.
“We know we have a good car. We weren’t sure if we were ready to do the 400. It came down to, you know, next year, you don’t know what will happen. I might not even be in a race car if something crazy happens. So, we didn’t want to throw away the one opportunity we have to run a race like this.
“We’re going to risk it, go out there and hopefully have a good finish.”
The Winchester 400 weekend is scheduled for three action-packed days of racing at the “Fastest Half Mile” on October 9-11. More tickets have just been released and are available at winchesterspeedway.com/tickets.
Teams and fans wanting to purchase pit passes early to help expedite their entry to the infield can do so at pitpay.com or download the Pit Pay App wherever you obtain App for your mobile device.
Fans unable to make the trip to Winchester, Indiana will be able to watch all three days of racing via a pay-per-view broadcast on Speed51.TV. For more information and to order your video ticket today, click here.
Be sure to follow Winchester Speedway’s social media channels for the latest updates on upcoming events. “Like” the Winchester Speedway Facebook page, follow @FastestHalfMile on Twitter and Instagram.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo