Brian Keselowski hopes 'Dega spurs another start
RELATED: Full race results from Talladega Brian Keselowski was all smiles on pit road after finishing 17th in the Camping World Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday, as he debriefed with his team and chatted with those surrounding him. But under the smile lay a level of disappointment -- his chance at his first NASCAR major series victory in his first Truck start had faded away like his diminishing fuel cell, the culprit of Keselowski's demise in the final laps of the fred's 250 presented by Coca-Cola. "I'm emotional. I'm really proud of how we ran," Keselowski said on pit road after the race. "I'm disappointed that it was probably my only chance. We'll see how it works out." Keselowski -- who is a crew chief for ARCA driver Matt Kurzejewski and part-time driver in the series -- seemed poised for victory, as he was lined up to restart fourth for a green-white-checkered attempt in a Ford owned by his brother Brad Keselowski . His performance throughout the day had shown brighter than his lack of experience behind the wheel of a truck, as he had battled back to the front after getting slapped with a pit road speeding penalty early, and even led 10 laps around the 2.66-mile track. "We worked our way through the pack really quick and I was like, 'Wow, that's good,' " Keselowski said. "… All of a sudden we're out in front of a pack and everybody is starting to pit and we're weaving our way through traffic and the 4 (of Erik Jones ) is with me and I'm like, 'We might be leading this thing.' " But determination can take a driver only so far. Prior to the restart, Keselowski made the disappointing trudge down pit road, his No. 29 truck fuel cell as dry as the Alabama asphalt. It was a moment that was heart sinking for Brad Keselowski Racing team owner and younger brother Brad Keselowski , who had given Brian the opportunity to pilot the No. 29 for injured Austin Theriault . "I really thought he was going to win it," Brad Keselowski said, tilting his head back in dismay in the Talladega garage after Saturday's Sprint Cup Series qualifying session. "… He did great, he really did. I was really happy to see him run up front, disappointed he didn't finish off, but he did everything I could ever ask him to and more." Brad Keselowski 's girlfriend Paige White tweeted at Brian after the race, saying that their motorcoach needed a new floor due to Brad's pacing during the Truck race. "You made him proud!" she said. Despite the finish that was marred with disappointment, Brian Keselowski 's strong showing at the superspeedway gave the 34-year-old driver one crucial element: confidence. "It kind of validated what I always thought -- that I could do it, I just never had a chance." Keselowski said. And win or not, its certainly a performance Keselowski hoped others were watching. "We had a really good truck," Keselowski said. "I hope I showed somebody I could do it."
Keselowski and Hendrick: What might have been
On April 18, 2009, Mark Martin won the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway . It was the 36th NASCAR premier series win for the 50-year-old driver and his first with team owner Rick Hendrick. A week and a day later, Brad Keselowski won the Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway . It was the first career win for the 25-year-old, and the first premier series victory for independent car owner James Finch. Two distinctly different races won by two distinctly different drivers. Martin's NASCAR career was beginning to wind down; Keselowski's , on the other hand, appeared to have only just begun. But there was one string that tied the two together -- Hendrick Motorsports . HMS was home to Martin, Jimmie Johnson , Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr . And it was expected by many to be the future home of the up-and-coming kid from Rochester Hills, Michigan. But a collection of factors that came together throughout the course of that season altered the racing landscape as well as the career path of Keselowski . It would be nearly three years before the next driver change at HMS. By then Keselowski had not only found a new home, but he was also on his way to winning the Sprint Cup championship. 'I WAS NOT GOING TO LOSE' The sun was out and the grandstands were packed when the 2009 Aaron's 499, the season's ninth Sprint Cup race, went green for the final time. As race leader Ryan Newman tried to keep Earnhardt Jr., the crowd favorite, in check, Keselowski darted to the inside behind Carl Edwards on the track's massive backstretch. It was a move that didn’t seem to mean much at the time. But at the start-finish line with two laps remaining, Edwards and Keselowski shot to the outside entering Turn 1. "Here they come; look at the 99 and ..." NASCAR on FOX analyst Darrell Waltrip began. " Brad Keselowski ," lead announcer Mike Joy and co-analyst Larry McReynolds chimed in. When the white flag appeared, Edwards and Keselowski had caught and were beginning to pull away from Newman and Earnhardt Jr. Racing back through the tri-oval, Keselowski turned his No. 09 Chevrolet to the outside, and then quickly dropped to the bottom as Edwards moved up to block. Realizing the bottom lane was now open, Edwards reacted quickly -- but not quickly enough. Contact sent the No. 99 Ford spinning. Edwards' car came off the track briefly and was beginning to settle back onto the track it was struck by Newman's Chevrolet. The impact sent Edwards roof-first into the frontstretch catch fence. Meanwhile, Keselowski kept his foot in the gas, racing across the finish line for the win just ahead of Earnhardt Jr. "I was not going to lose," Keselowski said in his post-race winner's interview. "I was not going to lift and (I was going to) hold my ground and consequences be damned." A full-time competitor at the time for JR Motorsports (which, coincidentally, counts Earnhardt Jr. and Hendrick among its ownership group) in what is now the NASCAR XFINITY Series, Keselowski said he didn't know what the future held after his first premier series win. "I know I don't have anything locked in," he said. "That's really all I can say ... I don't have a job secured for next year, and everything to this point has been wait-and-see. I know this certainly can't hurt." But behind the scenes, moves were already underway. Finch's Phoenix Racing, which purchased it engines from HMS, had put Keselowski in the car at the suggestion of Hendrick. And the JRM/Hendrick pipeline, which grooms talent in the lower series to help restock the Sprint Cup program, was taking root. Keselowski had made two starts for Hendrick the previous year, and would make seven all together in '09, in addition to five races with Finch. Perhaps his future wasn't as cloudy as it appeared. "Rick had come out and told me, actually had made it a point to say to the media that he thought I was a future driver at Hendrick," Keselowski told NASCAR.com recently. There was only one problem. SWAN SONG? On July 4, 2008, HMS officials announced that Martin had signed a two-year agreement to drive the organization's No. 5 Chevrolet. According to the news release, Martin, who would run a full schedule in 2009, would "run a partial Sprint Cup schedule ... in 2010, sharing the No. 5 Chevy with a to-be-determined second driver.” By most accounts, that driver was expected to be Keselowski . But in May of '09, less than three weeks after Martin's Phoenix victory, HMS officials announced a revision to the '08 agreement. The veteran driver would return in 2010 to once again run the entire season. With Keselowski waiting in the wings and Martin winning and agreeing to return the following year, "Rick was kind of half pregnant," Keselowski said. "He (was) stuck. "My feeling was, after I had won Talladega, I'm going to get this 5 car ride partially next year, pair it with something else, let's go. I didn't know what it was going to be. We'll figure it out; let's go." A phone call and subsequent meeting with Hendrick, however, changed all that. "I was kind of expecting more of a 'Hey, we're going to expedite the process of clearing out the rest of this,' " Keselowski said of the meeting, "And instead I got a 'Hey, I don't have a ride for you. You need to figure something else out. I'll try to help.' "That was late April, early May of that year. My intent ... was to give him that time to kind of make right on it somehow, find a ride because he had made me the promise that I would have that car. It didn't sit all that well, but I understood the circumstances and so forth." Months passed and Keselowski busied himself with his full-time XFINITY Series effort at JRM while making a handful of Sprint Cup starts for Hendrick and Finch. Hendrick, in the meantime, was exploring the various avenues that might keep Keselowski in the HMS camp. Possible scenarios included Stewart-Haas Racing , at the time a two-team effort, and Red Bull Racing. Consideration was even given to fielding a Sprint Cup entry out of the JR Motorsports shop, according to the owner. But the pieces didn't fit and as the summer wore on, Keselowski's future remained uncertain. "I wanted him to wait a year," Hendrick told NASCAR.com. "... I don't remember all the details, but I do remember that Mark had done so well, and I had tried to talk (Mark) into staying. "I've told all our guys, the first time I sat down with Brad he impressed me because he was so intense about the whole car and wanted to be involved in everything. He was just so committed. I told our guys he's got the right attitude about racing and driving. I just needed him to wait." Waiting, though, wasn't part of Keselowski's plan. "My perception is a driver is a lot like a perishable fruit," Keselowski said. "You've got so much time, then he spoils and goes bad. There are a lot of variables, much like anything." PENSKE COMES CALLING The Keselowski family has always been involved in racing. Brad's father Bob was an ARCA Series standout and a former winner in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Ron Keselowski , an uncle, scored two top-five finishes in 68 premier series starts while older brother Brian Keselowski has one or more starts in all three of NASCAR's national series. "We knew the Keselowski name from being here in Detroit," Walt Czarnecki, an executive vice president at Penske Corp., said. "His dad, his uncle, all that. They would run out at MIS ( Michigan International Speedway ) when (Penske) owned the track." But it was a business associate, lawyer/agent John Caponigro, who brought up the young driver's name during a conversation in 2009. "We thought he was committed to Hendrick," Czarnecki said. "He'd been on loan to James Finch to run several races. But some things were changing." Conversations with Keselowski ensued, in Michigan as well as Mooresville, North Carolina, where Team Penske is headquartered. "All this time," Czarnecki said, "Still having this somewhat uncertain situation with Mr. Hendrick." Team Penske had grown from a two-team to a three-team organization in '08, fielding cars for drivers Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman and Sam Hornish Jr . In '09 Newman departed to join owner/driver Tony Stewart at Stewart-Haas Racing and 32-year-old David Stremme was brought on board to fill the open seat. But the Keselowski opportunity was intriguing, according to Czarnecki. "We've tried to sign on what we consider to be the best available young drivers with a great deal of potential that we could mold and have them grow in our organization," he said. "And I think that Brad certainly fit that description. "But above and beyond that, he had a bigger vision as to what role he wanted to play in terms of the development of the team. ... Just how he saw different things coming together ... "Some of it may have been a little unrealistic; some of it was certainly the enthusiasm of a young man who had a goal in mind. ... But he had this great enthusiasm and he had this great desire and this great commitment. And that appealed to us." With the Hendrick effort seemingly stalled, Keselowski went back to Penske with a request -- to compete full-time in both the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series. In addition to its Sprint Cup effort, Team Penske was fielding one full-time XFINITY Series team with driver Justin Allgaier . Expanding that program to two teams running all the races was problematic, given the economy at the time. Told such a scenario was unlikely, Keselowski was left to consider his few available options. But Penske officials continued to work until enough of the appropriate pieces were in place. "Sure enough, Roger called me one night and said 'Alright, I've got it put together,' " Keselowski said. "It kind of caught me off guard. I was sold. That's it; he made it happen." "I couldn't sit around and wait. ... Roger had gone above and beyond to put something together that I felt like was the opportunity I needed. ... The economy was on its way down fast; Roger (through his various businesses) had a lot of immunities to the economy. Rick made it very clear to me that he was not going to invest himself without having a sponsor, and the economy was not in a spot where he could facilitate that." Hendrick had been aware of the Penske interest from the beginning, having had conversations with his fellow team owner about Keselowski's status. "Roger called me and asked me could he talk to him," Hendrick said. "I didn't want to stand in his way. Brad's a hell of a talent. It was a timing issue. "It's worked out for him. At his age it would have been nice if we could have kept him. ... If I got a call from Roger and I was in his spot I would have done exactly what he did." POSTSCRIPT On Sept. 1, 2009, Team Penske officials announced that the organization had signed Keselowski to compete full-time in both the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series beginning the following season. Since then, Keselowski has won 17 Sprint Cup races, 28 XFINITY Series races and championships in both series. "I don't want to sound mercenary but he brought us our first Sprint Cup championship (in 2012)," Czarnecki said. "Because that vision that he outlined, we tried to work with him and bring people along, bring people into the organization, have him work with people like (crew chief) Paul Wolfe, it was really the realization of that vision. That's what it (has) meant. "And his intensity hasn't changed." Former teammates Busch and Hornish have departed, and fellow driver AJ Allmendinger has come and gone. Keselowski , now 32, is the veteran of a Penske group that now includes 25-year-old teammate Joey Logano . "I wasn’t looking to switch," Keselowski said. "If things would have gone the way they were supposed to go before Mark won that race at Phoenix, I would still be there."
Keselowski hires familiar face for BKR ride
Brad Keselowski posted a blog late Thursday evening indicating that a new driver will be behind the wheel of the No. 29 Brad Keselowski Racing Ford -- his brother, Brian . The elder Keselowski will suit up for next Saturday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway (1 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM). The ride was opened up because the truck's full-time driver, Austin Theriault , was injured in an accident during the Rhino Linings 350 on Oct. 3 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . On short notice, Keselowski kept it close to home. Excited to announce the newest member of our @TeamBKR truck team, my brother @KeselowskiBrian . My blog on why now: http://t.co/zo1UG9xTIp — Brad Keselowski (@ keselowski ) October 16, 2015 Brian was more than thrilled at the notion. I've been waiting most if my life to say this, I get to drive the #29 truck @TalladegaSuperS ! I'm so excited I can hardly stop smiling — Brian Keselowski (@KeselowskiBrian) October 16, 2015
Keselowski has trouble on pit road
Brad Keselowski's No. 22 team stumbles on pit road during his final pit stop of the NASCAR XFINITY Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Keselowski completes weekend sweep of qualifying
Brian Scott will join Brad Keselowski on the front row
O'Donnell responds to Brad Keselowski's comments
NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell responds to Brad Keselowski's comments after the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway.
Brad Keselowski shares secret to success at Talladega
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Talladega EDITOR'S NOTE: In a rare first-person exclusive, Brad Keselowski gives his thoughts on racing at NASCAR's biggest track, Talladega Superspeedway. From racing the track on a video game to racing the pack in real life, Keselowski gives a glimpse into the "moves" that translate into Talladega success. Some drivers relish Talladega. Some drivers hate it. I still remember this time—it was probably 2003—and there was this video game called "NASCAR Racing 2003 PC." And I would run it and have a great time. There was this online community, and we would race all kinds of different tracks. It was a lot of fun, but there weren’t a lot of great drivers. I wasn't a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver then, but I was a decent online racer. We'd go to all these different tracks. We'd go to a Bowman Gray or a Dover or a Michigan, and I had a blast with that. But you'd only get maybe five or 10 guys who were any good, and the rest were intimidated, so it was almost like it was too easy. So this online league I was racing with started this thing where we would race on Tuesday nights, and we had this series where we would race on superspeedways, and like 80 to 100 people would show up and race it. Talladega was two of the races, and my bother ( Brian ) and I would race on it together. I remember winning those races and thinking, 'That's so cool to beat all these guys' and kind of almost falling in love with Talladega online. And so the first time I went there, it was a little bit of a shellshock being in a pack for real. It was a lot different from being in a pack on a damn computer—I can tell you that right now. But the moves and the techniques and all those things are really similar, and when you can slow it down and think of it as a giant chess match, where things aren't just happening—they're happening because you want them to, it starts to breed a lot of confidence in you. You feel comfortable at those tracks. And that why I’m looking forward to Sunday’s GEICO 500 (2 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). MORE: Full Talladega schedule " 'Dega paint schemes You've still got to get over the wrecks and the big packs and all those things you know you’re susceptible to. You still have to get over that, and that's a tough challenge, but the moves to me are like a game of chess, and I enjoy that game. Learning the moves is like anything else in life. How do you learn to ride a bicycle? Sometimes you bust your ass. Sometimes you learn by watching somebody else and what they can do. What's interesting about Talladega is that it seems like every year—or maybe every three or four years—a new move comes out that no one has ever thought of, no one has executed before. That's what made Dale (Earnhardt) so special there. He was always creating the new moves. Because of that, he was always a step ahead. I think that continues to happen now. The great racers at Talladega are the ones that can innovate and create a new move that nobody knows how to defend. And that's really, really tricky. It takes a lot of research, a lot of timing, a lot of work, a lot of study. But some of it's just intuition and learning the hard way, too. STATS: Keselowski's 4 Talladega wins, more I guess what I’m trying to say is, like anything else in life, there’s a lot of ways you can learn. You can learn the hard way. Sometimes you learn because you just have a natural talent at it, or sometimes you learn from studying. I think it's really all three. In my first win in the No. 2 Miller Lite car, when I broke the draft on the final lap, someone else had made that move, but they made it at a time that wasn't critical to the outcome. Going into that race, I had that move planned, but not until the end when the timing was most beneficial. That won that race, and now that move is defunct. You always think you've found the next move, but you never know until the race is over, and it either worked or it didn't. But I can't tell you what it is—it's a trade secret. I think it goes in waves. I think you have a year or two where it’s like nothing's clicking, and you get frustrated. Then you find a new move, find a new technique, and things start to click, and you feel like you're in charge and dominant. And then everybody eventually catches up to those moves, or those moves are made irrelevant by rules changes and so forth, and you have to find a new one. I think there's a bit of an ebb and flow to it. At this point in time, we have a series of moves that are pretty strong, that have put us in a position to win a lot of plate races at Team Penske with a lot of things that Joey (Logano) and I have learned and worked on together. But those moves eventually will become irrelevant. There will be something different. Hopefully, it will last a long time, but history shows it won't. That's OK. I look at probably the last three years on the plate tracks, and I feel like Joey and I have been the most successful, and we hope to continue that. As told to Reid Spencer of the NASCAR Wire Service. &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
Penske's appeal allows Wolfe to lead Keselowski to Martinsville victory
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Texas RELATED: Keselowski wins at Martinsville " No. 2 crew on the win MARTINSVILLE, Va. – It didn't take long for a decision to appeal a post-race penalty handed down to the No. 2 Team Penske Team to pay dividends. Driver Brad Keselowski's appearance in Victory Lane on Sunday following the STP 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race was proof enough of that. So, too, it seems, was crew chief Paul Wolfe's attendance on the team's pit box. "Look, I need him on that box every weekend," team owner Roger Penske said of Wolfe. "I told him I'd pay him to be on that box every weekend, not to be sitting in his motor home looking at a bunch of monitors. "But … really the strategy was that we'd take a race off last week and then make the appeal and I guess we'll be coming back here. … So it was good to get the experience here on this track, obviously, because it'll be in the Chase." The No. 2 team failed post-race inspection following last month's Camping World 500 at Phoenix Raceway. As a result, Wolfe was fined $65,000 and suspended for three races. Keselowski was assessed with the loss of 35 driver points and Penske 35 car owner points. RELATED: Keselowski penalized after Phoenix No decision on filing an appeal was made until the team had the opportunity to inspect the car at its headquarters in Mooresville, North Carolina. In the meantime, Brian Wilson served as the team's interim crew chief at Auto Club Speedway. Keselowski rallied from early problems to finish second in the Auto Club 400. Wednesday, two days before the start of the Martinsville race weekend, Team Penske officials announced they had requested an appeal hearing and to defer the two remaining races of Wolfe's suspension "until the results of our appeal are known." "It's tough when you're not there," Wolfe said Sunday evening. "You try to communicate the best with the guys, but there's that little bit that you miss when you're just not sitting on the box and being able to communicate with Brad during the race. "It's tough not being there, and that's part of why ‑‑ that's the penalty they hand down, because they know it is. I'm just proud of the effort today. It was a good way to come back after not being on the box last week." Keselowski , the 2012 series champion, said he hadn't considered how he might have fared Sunday without the services of Wolfe. "Who knows?" he said. "I ain't thinking about that; I'm just glad I got a checkered flag and a clock."
Brad Keselowski Racing reveals '17 Truck Series lineup
CONCORD, N.C. -- Brad Keselowski Racing (BKR) announced its team lineup details for the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) season at the National Motorsports Press Association annual convention in Concord, North Carolina. Austin Cindric will pilot the No. 19 Draw-Tite Ford F-150 and Chase Briscoe, who was recently named as the first driver in the Ford Performance development program, joins the organization as the driver of the No. 29 Cooper Standard Ford F-150. Cindric and Briscoe will both compete on a full-time basis as they pursue the NCWTS championship for BKR. Doug Randolph, who has been atop the pit box at BKR since 2012, will serve as crew chief for Cindric, while two-time NCWTS championship-winning crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. will lead the effort for Briscoe. "We're very fortunate to have partners like Cooper Standard and Horizon Global, with brands like Draw-Tite, Reese and Bulldog, that make it possible to give two young drivers an opportunity. And that's something I'm very proud of," team owner Brad Keselowski said. "Austin Cindric has already had success in various forms of racing, and has shown a lot of potential in our Ford F-150 race trucks. I certainly believe that Chase is ready to take the next step in his career, and we're excited to have him join the BKR family. He won the ARCA championship in his first full-time season, and he's proven to have the ability to learn quickly and win races. We're pleased to give both Austin and Chase the opportunity to compete full-time at a high level in NASCAR." Cindric, 18, has six NCWTS series starts dating back to Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in October 2015 -- all with BKR. He made four starts with BKR in 2016, qualifying a career-best second at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (Bowmanville, Ontario). Cindric scored victories in the ARCA Racing Series event at Kentucky Speedway and in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East races at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International and Virginia (Danville, Va.) International Raceway. "This is a massive opportunity from Brad and everyone at BKR who trusts me and believes in my abilities as a driver to move on to the next level for a full season," said Cindric. "2017 gets more and more exciting for me with every day that goes by. I've only done a handful of one-off races in my brief stock car career, so I'm really looking forward to having the same guys by my side week in and week out. I've spent a lot of time at the shop the last few weeks and I know everyone is really excited to get back racing." The past two seasons for Briscoe read like a Hollywood screenplay. The 22-year-old Mitchell, Indiana, native joined Cunningham Motorsports in 2015 as a volunteer in the team's shop, and just one year later, the rookie driver was celebrating the ARCA Racing Series Championship. Briscoe led the series in wins (six, including four consecutive victories) and poles (six). He finished with 14 top fives and 18 top-10 finishes in 20 races. "It's is an absolutely huge opportunity and such an honor to drive for Brad," said Briscoe. "The competition level in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is so high, but I'm going to be in the best equipment out there. It's really cool to once again be working with the Keselowski family. When I moved to North Carolina three years ago, I was helping Brian and Bob in their shop, so things have come full circle. I'm truly blessed with this opportunity, and I hope to make the most of it. At the end of the day, it's all about winning races and championships, and that's what I plan to do."
Keselowski : 'Adaptability' is key on restrictor-plate tracks
Brad Keselowski talks about the challenges of plate racing and how experience helps with taming those tough tracks.
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