Brad Keselowski in Darlington Raceway victory lane. (HHP/Jacy Norgaard)

Keselowski’s Patience Paid Off

Brad Keselowski’s move to RFK Racing at the conclusion of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season was puzzling for many, and for good reason.

Keselowski, who won 35 Cup Series races, a Cup and Xfinity Series championship with Team Penske over the span of 11 seasons, made the daunting move to then-Roush-Fenway Racing to become a co-owner and driver.

RFK hadn’t won a Cup Series race since 2017 and was considered on a downward spiral since the departures of longtime drivers Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth during the mid-2010s. 

The once formidable team spearheaded by Hall of Famer Jack Roush was in a murky place. 

Needless to say, Keselowski and the RFK team had its work cut out for it entering 2022. 

While navigating the new Next Gen race car and rebuilding a struggling race team, Keselowski remained patient.

Teammate Chris Buescher tallied a win at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in the latter part of the season, which was a sign of things to come. 

One year later, both drivers made the NASCAR Playoffs as Buescher surged with three victories in a breakout season. 

This season, it was finally Keselowski’s turn. After 110 races without visiting victory lane, Keselowski’s patience from a driver’s standpoint paid off in a big way on Sunday as he returned to glory at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.

Keselowski salutes the Darlington Raceway crowd after winning. (HHP/Chris Owens)

Keselowski pointed to the ebbs and flows of rebuilding the team over the last three years, in what he described as “a heck of a ride.”

“So much has changed over the last three years from when I walked in the door, and I see just a group that keeps getting stronger,” Keselowski said. “It’s tough because I feel like there’s been a lot of two steps forward, one step back, and you keep doing those and you keep doing those. 

“Everybody kind of looks at it like, ‘We just took these two steps forward, why are we taking another step back?’ And it leads to the next gain. We took a pretty big step back over the off-season. It was with a lot of intentionality in a couple critical categories. We paid for that dearly to start the year and kind of lost some performance,” Keselowski continued.

“But it was in the name of being able to do this right here — win races honest and be competitive, and the two steps forward are just now being realized. 

“It never comes as quick as you want it to. It’s a tedious, painful process that takes a deep grind at all levels, whether that’s the driver level, the organizational level, the pit crew level. But that grind is worth it when you have moments like this.

“I surely appreciate it.”

It was a moment for the 40-year-old that was long awaited. Leading to his triumph, there were plenty of signs his time back to the winner’s circle was approaching. 


Two straight runner-up results at Texas Motor Speedway and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway last month were symbols clear as day – Keselowski’s day was coming. 

Alas, the seas parted for Keselowski on Sunday with nine laps to go after Buescher and Tyler Reddick made contact while battling for the lead. 

With both drivers cutting tires, Keselowski pounced  and wheeled his No. 6 Ford Mustang to the checkered flag.

As he reflected on an emotional win, Keselowski described his latest chapter and what’s been most meaningful about the journey. 

“I think no matter what you do in life, you want to leave a mark, some in other ways than others. I’m really proud of the career I’ve had at Penske and always will be,” Keselowski said. “It was a really special place to work with some special people.

“This is just another chapter. It doesn’t replace that chapter. But it’s another chapter where I can look in the mirror and say that I’m leaving some kind of mark on the sport, maybe even some of the people.

“I take as much pride in anything as helping the people and being on teams and seeing the 19-, 20-year old kid that comes in as an intern and watching them learn something or seeing the 23-year-old that just graduated college and didn’t make the NFL draft but comes in as a pit crew member and is now going over the wall and has a good job and does a great job,” Keselowski continued. 

“I take as much about that as I do my own success because it feels so good to leave a positive mark on others that way.

“So it’s just another chapter for me. I don’t know what the next chapter will be. I’m not done with this one. I hope I’ve got a lot more pages to write. Took a little longer than I would’ve liked to have to have gotten an official run, although I did win the Duel right there right out of the gate, but I guess that doesn’t count, does it? 

“I’m just thrilled that I’m able to put some meaningful pages in this chapter, and I hope there’s a lot more to come.”