Brad Keselowski is officially a part owner of Roush Fenway Racing.
The team announced Keselowski’s arrival on Tuesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The 2012 NASCAR Cup Series champion will drive the No. 6 car in 2022 and beyond as he moves over from Team Penske.
Team Penske announced that Keselowski would be leaving the team at the end of the season a week ago when it said that Austin Cindric would drive the No. 2 and Harrison Burton would drive the Wood Brothers’ No. 21 in 2022.
“I am thrilled to be able to share the news about this next venture with my fans, peers, and the industry,” Keselowski said in a team statement. “This presents an opportunity to continue my on-track success with a strong team and a long-term commitment, but also dive into my passion of team ownership where I know I can be an asset to the future of the team. 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]. Our goal is to win races and compete for championships at NASCAR’s top level, and we plan to do just that.”
Keselowski’s move makes him the second active Cup Series star to take an ownership stake in a team in the last two seasons. Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan formed 23XI Racing ahead of the 2021 season and hired Bubba Wallace to drive the No. 23 car. Keselowski is a minority owner of Roush Fenway Racing and will be a part of the team’s competition committee.
Roush has fielded two cars for Ryan Newman and Chris Buescher over the last two seasons. The addition of Keselowski helps position the organization for the future and NASCAR’s new Cup Series car set to be introduced next season. Majority team owner Jack Roush is 79 and Keselowski now becomes the obvious long-term successor as the face of the team.
Can Roush get back to the top?
Keselowski, 37, has finished in the top 10 in the points standings in each of the past four seasons and has finished in the top 12 since he missed the playoffs in 2013. With 35 wins since 2009, Keselowski has established himself as a perennial title contender — something that Roush hasn’t had since Carl Edwards’ departure.
Roush was a dominant force in the 2000s. All five of its cars made the 10-team playoffs in 2005 and helped usher in an era where NASCAR capped Cup Series owners at four cars per team.
That 2005 season when Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and Mark Martin finished 2-3-4 in the points standings to Tony Stewart ended up as the last peak for Roush. The team went from four full-time cars to three after the 2011 season and then shrunk to a two-car team after Greg Biffle’s departure at the end of the 2016 season.
Roush has operated as a two-car team since then and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is the only driver to win for the team in the past four-plus seasons. Stenhouse’s win in the July Daytona race in 2017 is the last Cup Series win for the team.
Keselowski is clearly not joining Roush for the team to continue to run in the middle of the pack. And with NASCAR’s new car, there’s a chance that the team can reset and move back up the Cup Series ranks.
It won’t be easy. Joe Gibbs Racing and Hendrick Motorsports will still be the top teams for Toyota and Chevy, respectively. And Roush is third in the Ford lineup behind Team Penske and Stewart-Haas Racing. Simply consistently outrunning the other Ford teams would be a great improvement.
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