Brad Keselowski on Stewart-Haas Racing’s Ford bombshell: ‘I was blown out of the water’

1 Comment

HAMPTON, Ga. – If you were stunned by Stewart-Haas Racing’s decision to Ford Performance in 2017, you’re in good company – one of the manufacturer’s most recognizable stars had no idea, either.

“I was kind of blown out of the water because it’s such a big move,” Brad Keselowski said Friday after qualifying 18th at Atlanta Motor Speedway. “I’ve got to be honest, I didn’t see that one coming. Maybe my first thought was, and I texted (Ford Performance global director) Dave Pericak this, is ‘ballsy.’ I thought it was a ballsy move.

“To go after a team that has had the success that they’ve had over the last three to four years at Stewart-Haas Racing, you better bring your cojones to the table. To pull it off is even that much more.”

Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner Tony Stewart said Wednesday that the move had been in the works for six months, but Keselowski said he didn’t learn until Tuesday night and had no inkling beforehand.

Though it’ll provide some stiff in-house competition for his Team Penske (the only Ford team to qualify for the 2015 playoffs), Keselowski views it as a positive for NASCAR.

“I haven’t really put together all my emotions or thoughts on it, but I think the strongest one at this point is it’s good for the garage whenever the manufacturers are more involved,” the 2012 Sprint Cup champion said. “There’s really only two needles in this sport that you can move that have the ability to lift the tides of all ships: That’s a stronger, more connected fan base, and OEMs (original equipment manufacturers, commonly used to describe the manufactures in racing).

“Fans, because of course if we have bigger attendance, higher TV ratings, it just drives their value, and OEMs because anytime an OEM strengthens their commitment, it forces the others to review theirs, and more than 90%, I’d say, of the time, they raise their allocations. So in that sense, it’s always a good thing when an OEM gets deeper into the sport, whether it be with a team, more activation, name whatever metric you want. So I guess probably my predominant thought at the moment, subject to change, is that an OEM further engaged in the sport is a great thing.”

Though next season will mark the first time Penske has competed against a four-car team under the Ford banner, Keselowski doesn’t envision it being a major change for the drivers..

“I don’t think it’s a big deal for me,” he said. “I think it’s a huge deal for the executives at Penske. Trying to define that relationship to the advantage of all. But for me, at this point, I don’t see it as a big deal.”

And would Brad Keselowski Racing build a truck for Kevin Harvick?

“Absolutely,” Keselowski said with a laugh. “Absolutely. I wouldn’t bat an eye.”

NASCAR suspends Chase Elliott one race for incident with Denny Hamlin


NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one Cup race for wrecking Denny Hamlin in Monday’s Coca-Cola 600, the sanctioning body announced Tuesday.

“We take this very seriously,” Elton Sawyer, senior vice president of competition, said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “The incident that happened off Turn 4, again after looking at all the available resources — in-car camera, data, SMT, which basically gives us (a car’s) steering, throttle, gives us braking — it was an intentional act by Chase in our opinion.”

Hendrick Motorsports stated that it would not appeal the penalty. Corey LaJoie will drive the No. 9 car for Hendrick Motorsports this weekend at World Wide Technology Raceway. Carson Hocevar will drive LaJoie’s car this weekend.

Hendrick Motorsports also stated that it would submit a waiver request for Elliott to remain eligible for the playoffs. Sawyer said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “I don’t see any reason at this point in time why wouldn’t (grant the waiver) when that request comes across our desk.”

This weekend will mark the seventh race in the first 15 that Elliott will have missed. He missed six races after breaking his leg in a snowboarding accident in early March. Elliott, who is winless this season, is 29th in points.

Elliott and Hamlin got together shortly before the halfway mark in Monday’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

As they ran together, Hamlin forced Elliott toward the wall. Elliott’s car slapped the wall. Elliott then made contact with the right rear of Hamlin’s car, sending Hamlin into the wall.

“I got right-rear hooked in the middle of the straightway,” Hamlin said after the incident. “Yes, it was a tantrum. He shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”

Said Sawyer on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio: “In the heat of the battle, things happen, but they have to learn to react in a different way. … Our drivers need to understand that you have to handle that in a completely different way than hooking someone in the right rear and putting them in harm’s way, not only with just a major head-on collision like Denny had, but also other competitors.”

Sawyer also said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “nothing gave us the indication that on that particular contact with the fourth-turn wall … that anything was broke” on Elliott’s car and could have caused him to come down and hit Hamlin’s car in the right rear.

NASCAR also announced that Scott Brzozowski and Adam Lewis, crew members on Michael McDowell‘s team, had each been suspended two races after McDowell’s car lost a tire in Monday’s race.

Winners and losers at Charlotte Motor Speedway


A look at winners and losers from Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway:


Ryan Blaney — Blaney stopped his winless streak at 59 races and gave team owner Roger Penske his second major race victory in two days. Blaney had the best car but had to fight through restarts late in the race to win.

William Byron — Byron, the winningest driver this season, barely missed getting victory No. 4. He finished second and scored his fifth straight top 10.

Martin Truex Jr. — Truex logged his third top five of the season.

23XI RacingBubba Wallace was fourth and Tyler Reddick fifth, giving 23XI Racing a pair of top-five finishes for the first time in a points race.


Jimmie Johnson — The seven-time champion admitted having problems adjusting to the Next Gen car on a 1.5-mile track. He crashed early and finished last.

Legacy Motor Club — It was a bad night for Jimmie Johnson and his team’s drivers. Johnson finished last in the 37-car field. Noah Gragson was 36th. Erik Jones placed 32nd.

Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin — Two drivers who had strong cars didn’t make it to the finish after crashing near the halfway point. Hamlin said Elliott “shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”

NASCAR Xfinity Series results: Justin Allgaier wins at Charlotte


CONCORD, N.C. — Justin Allgaier finally broke through for his first win of the NASCAR Xfinity Series season Monday night.

Allgaier stretched his last fuel load over the final laps to finish in front of John Hunter Nemechek. Cole Custer was third, Austin Hill fourth and Ty Gibbs fifth. Gibbs ran both races Monday, completing 900 miles.

The win also was the first of the season for JR Motorsports.

Charlotte Xfinity results

Xfinity points after Charlotte

Justin Allgaier wins NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway


CONCORD, N.C. — Justin Allgaier won a fuel-mileage gamble to win Monday night’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Allgaier stretched his fuel to outlast second-place John Hunter Nemechek. Following in the top five were Cole Custer, Austin Hill and Ty Gibbs.

The victory was Allgaier’s first of the year and the first of the season for JR Motorsports. He has 20 career wins.

MORE: Charlotte Xfinity results

After a long day at CMS, the race ended at 11:25 p.m. The race started Monday morning but was stopped twice because of weather before it was halted with 48 of 200 laps completed so that the Coca-Cola 600 Cup Series race could be run.

When the race was stopped, Gibbs, Nemechek and Allgaier were in the top three positions.

Gibbs won the first two stages.

Stage 1 winner: Ty Gibbs

Stage 2 winner: Ty Gibbs

Who had a good race: Justin Allgaier has had good cars in previous races but finally cashed in with a win Monday. He led 83 laps. … John Hunter Nemechek, in second, scored his fifth top-two run of the season. … Cole Custer scored his sixth straight top-10 finish. … Ty Gibbs lasted 900 miles for the day and led 52 laps in the Xfinity race.

Who had a bad race: Sam Mayer was running 10th when he spun off Turn 2. He finished 35th. … Sheldon Creed finished three laps down in 28th.

Next: The series moves on to Portland International Raceway in Oregon for a 4:30 p.m. ET race June 3.