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NASCAR Driver Brad Keselowski is Taking Ownership On and Off the Track

RFK Racing

Keselowski enters Phase 2 of his career as a team ­co-owner with Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing

When Brad Keselowski straps into the No. 6 Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing Ford to start the 2022 season, he will begin the second phase of his racing career — and with that, he’ll face a daunting task as co-owner of the team. Keselowski will drive and play a leadership role with team founder Jack Roush and John Henry, the Boston Red Sox owner who bought a 50 percent stake in the team in 2007.

“I am optimistic about what Jack, John and I can accomplish together, especially with a new era for our sport on the horizon (with the Next Gen car),” Keselowski says. “Our goal is to win races and compete for championships at NASCAR's top level. I feel like I’m buying into a stock as it’s going up.”

Keselowski initiated discussions to become a part-owner of Team Penske, his previous team, but those talks stalled. With Roush Fenway, he’ll encounter challenges as an owner-driver that many have faced and few have conquered.

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Michael Waltrip Racing struggled early on before finding success in the 2010s; Clint Bowyer won three races in 2012 and finished second in points. But MWR collapsed in 2015 under the weight of a cheating scandal.

Bill Elliott founded a team in 1995 and discovered that dealing with extraneous details was incredibly frustrating. All he wanted to do was drive, and instead he was settling silly disputes about hats and shirts. Across 230 starts in parts of seven seasons, he and his fellow drivers managed zero wins, 14 top 5s and a meager average finish of 20.5.

Tony Stewart’s experience is probably the best example of what Keselowski can expect. Stewart found success quickly when he became co-owner of what is now Stewart-Haas Racing. He won four races in his first season as an owner-driver and the championship in his third. Like Stewart, Keselowski is not starting a new team but rather joining an existing organization. Also like Stewart, he is joining a team far from the sport’s upper echelon. Stewart quickly learned that the key was hiring the right people, putting them in the right positions and then getting out of their way.

That will be crucial for Keselowski at RFR, too. While Roush Fenway Racing has not been a championship-caliber team for several seasons, it still has resources, a strong relationship with Ford and a history of success, even if it’s not recent. “There’s a great long-term play for this, but not at the expense of the short term,” Keselowski says. “We still intend to go out and win.”

Keselowski has a stronger business background, and a stronger interest in the business world, than most drivers, if not all. He previously owned a successful Truck Series team and now owns Keselowski Advanced Manufacturing, with clients in aerospace, defense, energy, automotive and performance motorsports. He promises to bring “a high level of energy and focus” to his new role.

The introduction of the Next Gen car should help Keselowski and RFK catch up to the field. Keselowski calls the car “a reset” for the sport. The car is designed to make it easier for teams with less money to compete with the sport’s super-teams. If that proves true, Keselowski’s skill should return the team to the sport’s elite. “If ever there was a time (to become an owner), it’s right now,” Keselowski says.

The timing is good for Roush Fenway, too. Roush was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in the Class of 2019. He has 137 victories at the Cup level and two championships (Matt Kenseth in 2003 and Kurt Busch in 2004). But Roush drivers have just two wins since 2014 and none since 2017.

“I think it will bring a lot to the organization, from not only Brad’s ability behind the wheel, but a rejuvenation and fresh perspective across our teams,” Roush says. “I’ve had the opportunity to watch Brad for a number of years, as he has fought and clawed his way up the ladder, molding himself into a champion and one of the top drivers in our sport. I’ve always admired his resolve and determination.”

— Written by Matt Crossman for Athlon Sports' 2022 Racing magazine. With 144 pages of racing content, it's the most complete preview available today. Click here to get your copy.