CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Former Cup champion Brad Keselowski will join the ownership group of Roush Fenway Racing and drive the No. 6 car in 2022, the team announced Tuesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
The 37-year-old Keselowski, who won the 2012 series title, joins the next generation of Cup team owners who are racing or have raced in NASCAR’s premier series. That includes 40-year-old Justin Marks (Trackhouse Racing), 40-year-old Denny Hamlin (23XI Racing), 25-year-old Matt Tifft (Live Fast Motorsports) and 37-year-old B.J. McLeod (Live Fast Motorsports).
“This solidifies and fortifies our future,” Steve Newmark, president of Roush Fenway Racing, said of adding Keselowski as a driver/owner and key person in the team’s competition department.
Newmark said Keselowski will purchase a minority stake in the team.
“It’s a big dream of mine to be an owner and partner at the NASCAR level,” Keselowski said Tuesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame and an audience that included NASCAR CEO and Chairman Jim France.
“I’ve been studying my whole life for this moment and I’m ready for the test.”
Keselowski said four key reasons led to this “no-brainer to take this opportunity.” He liked the long-term contract to drive and make this team his home for the rest of his driving career. He liked the opportunity to play a key role in the competition department. Ownership has been important for him and it provides something for him to remain a key element in the sport when his driving career is finished.
“I feel like I’m buying into a stock that is about to go up,” Keselowski said Tuesday.
Keselowski joins a Roush Fenway Racing organization that has won two Cup titles (Matt Kenseth in 2003 and Kurt Busch in 2004) and 137 Cup races but none since 2017.
“Our expectation is he is going to come in and inject new ideas and new thoughts and bring new innovations to us,” Newmark said of Keselowski.
Roush Fenway Racing last won a Cup race in July 2017. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. scored that victory, his second of the season. Both Roush drivers this season, Ryan Newman and Chris Buescher, are outside a playoff spot with four races left in the regular season. Newman and Buescher each missed the playoffs last year.
Newmark said Roush Fenway Racing will remain a two-car operation. Newmark said he’s talked to Newman, current driver of the No. 6 car, about the possibility of a part-time role. He said that Newman is still figuring out his plans for next year.
Roush Racing debuted in 1988, started by Jack Roush. The 79-year-old NASCAR Hall of Famer sold half the organization in 2007 to Fenway Sports Group, which operates the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool FC, and is owned by John Henry. The Cup team has been known as Roush Fenway Racing since the deal was completed.
Roush said Tuesday he is not retiring and plans to continue to go to the track but noted the succession plan that Keselowski provides.
Keselowski owned a Truck Series team from 2008-17, serving as the starting point in the NASCAR ladder for young drivers in the Ford chain. Among those who drove for him were Ryan Blaney, Ross Chastain, Tyler Reddick, Daniel Hemric, Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric.
Shortly after announcing that the team would not continue after the 2017 season, Keselowski reaffirmed his desire to be a team owner.
“I want to be positioned to have the best opportunities possible when I get done being a race car driver, and one of those opportunities is to be a team owner,” Keselowski said in August 2017. “For that to have any chance of being successful, it’s going to be critical for me to have all of my ducks in a row specific to having other income-generating businesses.”
He has that with Keselowski Advanced Manufacturing, a state-of-the-art 3D printing company. The company is housed in the 70,000-square foot building that once was home to Keselowski’s Truck team. That company helped provide the foundation for Keselowski to leave Team Penske after this season for this opportunity.
“If you look at all the business owners at this level – and really all three of these levels – they have a sustainable, profitable business outside of motorsports and that’s going to remain the key for any owner to have success because the reality is I can only be a race car driver for so long,” Keselowski said in August 2017.
“When that time comes up, my business would have had to shut down because I don’t have a profit center, and having that profit center is what helps you get through the ebbs and flows that every race team has, so I need to have one of those profit centers. That doesn’t mean that I’ll be a Cup owner one day, but that means when the time is right if we achieve the goals that I have, I’ll have the opportunity to make that decision myself and not have it made for me.”
Keselowski won the 2010 Xfinity title and 2012 Cup title for Team Penske. He has one Cup victory this season. Keselowski has won at least three races in the five preceding seasons. He has 34 Cup wins and 33 Xfinity victories for Team Penske.
“He brought some tremendous credibility,” team owner Roger Penske said last week about what Keselowski has meant to Team Penske. “Think about it. He’s the winningest driver we’ve had in the company. He gave us a championship and the leadership on the Xfinity side early on and it really helped us build Discount Tire.
“I would say that’s a real byproduct of Brad’s commitment to them as a sponsor. Forget what he did on the racetrack. I look at that as key. His working with sponsors, and I think, technically, he really got into the details.
“Then he had his own team, and I think he learned a little bit about being a team owner, and that even made him a better driver and things we could do to help support the team. So I see him as a broad placed brush across the whole organization — sponsorship, delivering on the racetrack. I think he’s a high integrity guy, which is very important with us and he helped us maintain a sponsor base.”