Brad Keselowski believes positive energy at RFK bodes well for team’s future

Brad Keselowski

Brad Keselowski became a co-owner of Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing prior to the start of the 2022 season. Since that time, the organization has risen from the ranks of the mid-pack to front runners. The numbers clearly bear that out with the most obvious improvement coming from the fact that both of their cars have earned a spot in the NASCAR Playoffs which was the first time either of their teams had entered the “post season” with a chance for the championship since Ryan Newman in 2019 and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in 2017.

This past Saturday night, Chris Buescher drove the No. 17 RFK Ford to victory in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at the Daytona International Speedway with Keselowski in the No. 6 RFK Mustang trailing just behind. It was the first 1-2 finish for the organization originally founded by NASCAR Hall of Fame member Jack Roush since March of 2014 when Carl Edwards and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. accomplished the feat at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Buescher has won three of the last five NASCAR Cup Series races(Richmond, Michigan & Daytona) making him the hottest driver in the sport going into the Playoffs. After the points re-set following the regular season finale at Daytona, Buescher currently ranks 4th while Keselowski sits 9th in the standings.

Neither RFK car made the Playoffs in 2022.

Following Saturday night’s win, appearances were made in the Daytona Media Center by Keselowski(owner), Buescher(driver) and Scott Graves(crew chief for the No. 17).

“It’s a really great day for us at RFK,” Keselowski declared. “A few weeks ago we were sitting down and going over our goals and visions and what we value and one of the things we brought up was 1-2 finishes. It’s been a very long time since this company has had 1-2 finishes so that means a lot to me. Of course, I wanted to be the one on the front of that but proud nonetheless of Chris and his efforts and both teams and where they have grown and come together. Doing all the right things to grow us and take us to that next level. Today was another feather in our cap. We’re really proud.”

The RFK crew pitting Brad Keselowski at Darlington

Prior to the Rochester Hills, Michigan native joining the ownership team along with Roush and Fenway Sports Group(John Henry), the organization had earned a combined total of 5 top-five and 23 top-ten finishes in 2020 and 2021 between drivers Newman and Stenhouse. Those numbers have shown great improvement over the past two seasons.

In 2022, Keselowski and Buescher combined for one win(Bristol), 4 top-five and 16 top-ten results. In the 26 races held so far in 2023, Buescher alone has scored the aforementioned three wins, 6 top-fives and 12 top-tens. Keselowski has earned 6 top-five and 11 top-ten finishes during this current campaign.

The co-owner takes pride in the fact that his company is not backing into wins, but rather, earning them. Still, the mission is not yet accomplished.

“Tremendous to get up front and to be able to control races, to execute at a very high level, and have the pace to just earn it,” the 2012 NASCAR Cup Series champion stated. “We’re not winning races that we don’t deserve to win. You’ll probably have some races that you lose that you deserved to win so that probably goes both ways. I think if you look at the wins RFK has had this year, and they’re not fluke wins, they’re earned wins. We’re proud of that, but come Monday, all of this kind of washes away. We’re focused on the 10 weeks to come. We’ve got to soak it up and celebrate the wins but keep moving forward.”

The 39-year-old driver/owner believes even better days are ahead.

“There’s a lot of energy for us and a lot of great racing to look forward to,” Keselowski insisted. “It’s hard to measure all the things a night like tonight will do for us as a company but I’m sure they’re all going to be positive. We’ll work through what that means. We’re building something that’s going to be special for a long time and that’s a goal of mine. I’m proud of everybody and the team and certainly Chris and his efforts, but the bigger picture is to have a sustainable race team that can race for championships for years to come. Today was good progress for that on that front. 1-2 finishes are huge for teams and that was the case for us.”

Graves believes that positive energy will carry forward into the 10-race championship run.

“We’re contenders, for sure,” Buescher’s crew chief said. “I think in the last month or month-and-a-half we’ve really seen a lot of growth with our team and what we’ve been able to do. The execution of what we’ve been able to do through the races has really come together and it’s really coming together at the right time so I do believe that we can be serious contenders through this Chase. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Chris Buescher in the RFK No. 17 Ford at Nashville

Graves cited Keselowski’s entry into the organization as key.

“I give Brad a ton of credit for what we’ve done and how far the company has come along,” he pointed out. “It started with the appearance of the building and everything was redone, fresh paint, floors were redone. That established ‘Here’s the look’. Really, it’s kind of trickled down into everything. It starts at that level then everything you work on, the expectation is that it’s that same level of detail.”

The equipment needed to compete at a high level has been made more accessible since the former Team Penske driver joined the team.

“He’s really worked hard to push for the tools that we need as teams but it comes with expense, it’s a lot of money that maybe in the past has been, ‘That’s not really necessary, you don’t need that’, but he’s really pushed to help the teams get what we need to be successful,” Graves explained. “I feel like he’s cleared the path for that and that allows us to work on the things that we’ve always felt like we were good at and now we’re getting to show that. We have the tools and we have that clear path to go work on things and make it right.”

Like Keselowski, Buescher believes the 1-2 finish at Daytona was a statement for the entire RFK operation.

“I’d say that it’s for RFK in a lot of ways,” the driver from Prosper, Texas said. “We know how much has gone into getting everything to look like it does now. The investments that have been made by our group, it’s really cool to see.”

Chris Buescher

The 30-year-old racer who has been under the Roush development umbrella since he was 15 years old has seen marked improvements over the past two seasons.

“I’ve been there for 15 years at RFK and I’ve seen it in a lot of different scenarios and I’m so proud of it right now and realize the work that’s gone into it to get it to this point,” Buescher stated. “And I realize that came at a rather large inconvenience for a lot of our people through the times and it wasn’t easy to do this. I think it’s for everybody at RFK as a whole. This is what we did, we know it was hard, we know it didn’t make sense to everybody all at one time but it’s worth it. This is the result of putting in that effort and really working hard to find speed at all these different styles of race tracks.”

The first round of the NASCAR Playoffs includes races at Darlington, Kansas and Bristol. All involved believe those races set up well for their teams.




Please consider also reading:

Turn 2 Blog: Who won’t survive past the first round?

Respond to this post on Twitter by following @RichardAllenIDR and @MichaelRMoats or by liking the Facebook page. 

Also, dirt racing fans can check out for more racing content.

Comments are closed.