CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It’s no secret that Brad Keselowski’s long-term goal in the NASCAR Cup Series was to enter the ownership side of the sport.
He got his wish Tuesday when he was announced as a minority owner of Roush Fenway Racing, the team he’ll drive for beginning next season. It’s only one step in Keselowski’s plan for when he hangs up his helmet.
“Ownership is something I think I’ve always articulated to the fans and media,” Keselowski said following the announcement Tuesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. “It was important to me long-term. It represents growth for me personally and professionally, which is very important
“It’s a big dream of mine to be an owner and a partner at the NASCAR level with the right ownership group, and I think this is it,” Keselowski added.
Keselowski identified four key components to the agreement with Roush Fenway Racing that made it appealing to the 37-year-old Michigan native. One of which was the ownership position, while another was a multi-year driving contract, something he’s not had in recent years with Team Penske.
“The ability to have a long-term driving contract was something I valued,” Keselowski said. “I want to stay at one place and be there for a long time and, hopefully, for the rest of my career. I know that’s the intent and goal.”
Another key element to the agreement was for Keselowski to have a leadership role in the organization, which he’ll have at Roush Fenway Racing as part of the team’s competition committee.
“The second condition, which was really important to me was to be in a leadership role, which to maybe explain that, we’re forming a competition committee that I’m proud to be a part of leading, so that will come together and I think allow me the freedom to express myself creatively and to lead the company and team to be the best it can be,” Keselowski explained. “That was really critical to me, to be able to have more control over my overall destiny with respect to matters competition related.”
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly for Keselowski, he wanted to have a role in NASCAR when he was finisheddriving. He believes his new role at Roush Fenway Racing will allow him to do that once he hangs up his helmet, whenever that may be.
“I’m standing here in the NASCAR Hall of Fame and there’s no irony lost on me that a lot of the names that you see in here are still involved in this sport in some way, shape or form past their driving career, but a lot are not,” Keselowski said. “I cannot see a day where I’m done driving and I don’t want to be a part of this sport, and this opportunity allows me just that — the ability to have a role in this sport past my driving career.”
This won’t be Keselowski’s first time as an owner in NASCAR. He previously operated Brad Keselowski Racing, a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team that shut down in 2017. He’s not ignorant to the challenges that face him at Roush Fenway Racing.
The team, once one of the most powerful organizations in NASCAR, has struggled in recent years following the departures of marquee drivers such as Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards. The team has only won two races since the 2014 season — both restrictor-plate races with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. at the wheel during the 2017 season.
Keselowski wants to return the team, which claimed a pair of NASCAR Cup Series titles with Kenseth and Kurt Busch in 2003 and ’04, to its place among the top teams in NASCAR.
“Ultimately, it’s gonna come down to three things — resources, people and processes. The resources are always shifting,” Keselowski said. “The Next Gen car represents that shift, so there’s a little bit of a level set there. The people are always changing and growing, and we’ll continue to work through that. We want to build a culture that has successful processes, so all those things have to come together to be an elite team, and there are a lot of changes in the marketplace that make the timing of this the best it possibly could be, so I know nothing happens overnight with respect to making the performance where we want it to be, but if ever there was the landscape to expedite that process, this is it.”