As Brad Keselowski vies for a Championship 4 spot ahead of Sunday’s Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway, he draws closer to the end of a great chapter in his NASCAR career.
Following 435 consecutive starts with Team Penske dating back to Nov. 8. 2009, at Texas Motor Speedway, Keselowski moves forward as a minority owner and driver for Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 6 Ford Mustang entry. In the meantime, Keselowski takes pride on what he’ll takeaway from the Team Penske organization.
“I’ve learned a lot from working with Roger Penske and everybody at Team Penske,” Keselowski said. “Whether it’s the level of professionalism or detail oriented approach, it’s pretty broad strokes, but they’re accurate, for sure. That commitment to the day to day grind is something I pride myself in and something I think they do vey well.”
The 37-year-old Rochester Hills, Michigan native meshed well with the 55-year-old racing organization. After all, Penske’s attention to details, professionalism and pursuit of excellence matched up with the tenacious, calculative racer. Throughout the past 13 years, Keselowski further strengthened Team Penske’s success in the NASCAR Cup Series.
With 34 wins, 136 top fives, 221 top 10 results and 17 pole positions as of press time, Keselowski contributed to Team Penske’s success as a perennial frontrunning contender. Particularly, the Michigander further cemented the No. 2’s legacy in Cup for the past decade including the 2012 championship.
Sitting six points from a Championship 4 position, Keselowski acknowledges the uphill battle facing his No. 2 Ford Mustang team.
“I think we’ve had an OK year, but not anything spectacular by any means,” he said. “And we just continue to execute at a really high level. We haven’t really shown a lot of race dominant speed. So to be able to take all three cars to the Round of 8 was a major accomplishment for us and a testament to the strength of the teams.”
Although teammate Ryan Blaney can advance into the Championship 4 on points, Keselowski’s comrade, Joey Logano, may need to win Sunday’s race to challenge for another Cup at Phoenix. On the other hand, Keselowski, who also can race his way into the championship fight by points, may find comfort with a win after at least 500 laps at the 0.526-mile short track.
Save for a crash related DNF (Did Not Finish) last spring resulting in a 33rd place result, Keselowski has been incredibly consistent at the paperclip. In his past 10 starts, he’s won twice (2016 and ’19 spring races) and finished in the top five eight overall times.
Overall, Keselowski has plentiful reasons to be confident at Martinsville. In his past 23 starts, Keselowski has an average finish of 11.2, quite similar to his average finish of 11.6 in his past 10 starts. The latter ranks the third highest among active Cup racers.
Consistency and excellence coincide with Keselowski and his stock car career. Each year, Keselowski adds to his future NASCAR Hall of Fame numbers while facing a successful, promising road ahead of the prime of his life.
At age 37, Keselowski’s evolution as a racer proves impressive. Even with younger stars working their way into the Cup ranks, the Wolverine State native looks forward to the road less traveled as an owner-driver.
“I don’t really view it that much,” he shared. “I just try to do my own thing and try to do the best I can at trying not to allow myself to get caught up in press clippings for good or bad and all those things. I’m trying to do the things I need to do to feel good about myself and the stats being what they are at the end of the day.”
In a typical but refreshing Keselowski fashion, the candid racer provided some interesting thoughts on his building legacy. Least to say, expect the best to come from this respectable Cup icon.
“It is easy to get caught up in those things,” he observed. “Every once in a while, someone will read a stat to me that makes me feel really good and blows my head up. And then it doesn’t take long for somebody to read one back to me that makes me feel like absolute crap. So I learned a long time ago to not let those things get into your psyche, so that’s what I try to do.
“I’m really proud of the career I’ve had. I’m nowhere near ready to be done and have a lot left to do, and look forward to these two weeks hopefully leaving some great marks on board.”