There are very few secrets in NASCAR. That explains why Tuesday’s announcement that Brad Keselowski will become part owner of Roush Fenway Racing came as no surprise. There were quiet rumors earlier this year, then a confirmation last week from Roger Penske.
Tuesday the rumors became fact. Keselowski will be a minority partner at Roush beginning in 2022 in which Keselowski will assume an ownership role and serve as head of the team’s competition committee, while racing the team’s flagship No. 6 Ford Mustang.
Keselowski, who had a small Truck series team of his own for a decade, becomes a partner on one of the sport’s bigger teams; and one that has been struggling in the last few years. The team has 137 wins in NASCAR’s Cup series and two drivers, Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch, have delivered Cup titles to owner and team founder Jack Roush, but since 2017 there has been nothing: no wins, and nothing close to a title.
“I welcome him as a partner, and I look forward to what we can do together,” Roush said. “I’ve been asked to say that I’m passing the baton to him, which I am, but I still have one hand on the thing, so I’m not going to give it up completely for a while.
“There are no retirement plans for me in my immediate future. I intend to keep going to the race tracks and to be as much of a nuisance and a distraction to my drivers and my crew chiefs as I have been in the past.”
In his 12 seasons with Team Penske, Keselowski won 35 times in the Cup series and gave team owner Roger Penske a Cup title in 2012.
Keselowski will join Denny Hamlin and former drivers Justin Marks and Tony Stewart as a team owner. The biggest difference perhaps is that Keselowski comes to a firmly established team, one that has been racing in the Cup series since 1988.
“It’s an incredible opportunity,” Keselowski said during the announcement. “There were four key components for me. To have a long-term driving contract was something I valued. I want to stay in one place and be there for a long time, hopefully for the rest of my career. That’s the intent and the goal.
“The second position which was really important to me was to be in a leadership role… to be able to express myself creatively and be able to lead the company and team to be the best it can be. That was really critical to me.
“The third thing was of course the ownership position. That’s quite a unique opportunity that really excites me… It represents growth for me, personally and professionally, which is very important. And that’s really the fourth point, to have a role in the sport after I’m done driving.”
The 37-year-old Michigan native admitted last week that he would have stayed with Team Penske had he been able to get an ownership stake in the company. Roger Penske said that wasn’t an option but that a contract extension was, sans any ownership talk. Keselowski declined and with the desire to be involved in an organization as something more than just a driver will now move into a role as a driver-owner.
“I just really enjoy the idea of ownership and management and seeing people grow,” he said. “The idea of building teams and seeing people grow and be successful together, I take a lot out of that.”
Roush president Steve Newmark declined to reveal the specific financial details of the partnership. Roush and the Fenway Sports Group have operated 50-50 partners before the addition of Keselowski to the mix.
“He’s obviously purchased a minority interest,” Newmark said, “but he’s not technically buying from either Roush or Fenway… The way we look at it is we basically have three partners going forward.”