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Racing

Brad Keselowski ‘Has Something to Prove’ during RFK Racing’s Rebuild

  • Brad Keselowski became part owner of Roush-Fenway Racing prior to the 2022 season.
  • Keselowski readily admits moving from Team Penske where he won a championship to RFK Racing as a co-owner is a “huge transition” for him.
  • On the ownership side, Keselowski works constantly on the financial model, but admits he has no intention of stepping out of the driver’s seat anytime soon.

    Brad Keselowski is no stranger to team ownership, having fielded a NASCAR Truck Series operation and watched his parents follow the same path in ARCA and NASCAR; however, rebuilding RFK Racing has probably been more difficult than he anticipated.

    “It never happens as fast as you want it to,” Keselowski said. “You see a problem, you attack it, you go to fix it and always, regardless of the company, the team, the situation, there is always some kind of red tape that makes it to where something that seems like an easy fix is really a long, drawn out, complicated fix. That never ceases to amaze me.”

    When Keselowski became part owner of Roush-Fenway Racing prior to the 2022 season, the Concord, N.C.-based operation had been on a downward spiral. It hadn’t won a Cup race since 2017. Keselowski knew he faced a tough, rebuilding road, but it possibility presented more frustrations than he anticipated.

    Brad Keselowski, left, and Chris Buescher, right, carry RFK Racing’s on-track hopes in 2023.

    Meg OliphantGetty Images

    Oh, there were a few bright spots in his first year as a Cup team co-owner in 2022. Keselowski and Buescher each won a Daytona 500 qualifying race after missing the Busch Light Clash, and Buescher recorded a victory at Bristol. However, Keselowski was winless for the first time since he entered NASCAR Cup racing full time in 2010. He produced only one top-five and six top-10 finishes. Buescher performed slightly better with three top-five and 10 top-10s. Overall, RFK Racing’s statistics in the 2022 season were one win, four top-five and 16 top-10 finishes.

    “We were in position to win probably two or three races with my car and maybe three to four races with Chris’ car,” said Keselowski, who admitted he was disappointed at not winning a points race.

    However, it was a lack of continuity due to all of the personnel changes last year that hurt the team early in the season, according to Buescher. He doesn’t expect that to be an issue this year.

    “We have a lot of potential at a lot of different styles of race tracks with some work to do on some mile and a halfs,” Buescher said. “We have something to work off of, we have a notebook.”


    nascar cup series federated auto parts 400

    Brad Keselowski had a win and 17 top-10 finishes for Team Penske in 2021. In 2022, he was winless and had just six finishes in the top 10 in his first year at RFK Racing.

    Jared C. TiltonGetty Images

    A lack of race wins wasn’t the only problem RFK Racing faced last year.

    With NASCAR’s introduction of the Next Gen car last year stiffer penalties were implemented for modifications to it and that adversely affected the team as well. Following the spring Atlanta race, Keselowski was docked 100 driver points, the No. 6 team lost 100 owner points and crew chief Matt McCall was suspended for four races and fined $100,000 for modifying a single-source supplied part. That penalty came several weeks after RFK Racing avoided punishment for reaming their wheels.

    Buescher admitted the team’s winless years have been “painful to watch”, but he kept thinking each season would be the one when the turnaround occurred.

    “There were a couple of years in there we felt progress was being made, but it just wasn’t showing up real big at the end of the year,” Buescher said. “I have confidence in our group, and I really liked where we ended last year. We really weren’t ready for it to be over.”

    Even though RFK Racing has already experienced a rerun of last year, failing to qualify for the Busch Light Clash, Keselowski noted that entering his second season at the helm was much different from the first.

    “This year is more about applying lessons that have been learned specific to the people that I am working with,” Keselowski said. “Last year, the off-season was a lot of transition around Next Gen and getting to know people.”

    The 39-year-old Keselowski readily admits moving from Team Penske where he won a championship to RFK Racing as a co-owner is a “huge transition” for him.

    “But I know what I don’t know now,” Keselowski said. “I was happy with the progress the back half of the year. The back half of the year I felt like we at least had the opportunity to run competitively multiple times and compete for top fives.”

    On the ownership side, Keselowski works constantly on the financial model, but admits he has no intention of stepping out of the driver’s seat anytime soon.

    “No race car driver has any interest in getting out of a race car when they can win and compete for championships,” Keselowski said. “I have something to prove here.”

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