Team Penske confirmed Brad Keselowski’s impending departure on Thursday, which was something Roger Penske wasn’t expecting he’d have to do.
“We were not expecting, quite honestly, that we would not be able to put a deal together with Brad,” Penske said.
But the former series champion is likely headed to Roush Fenway Racing, where he’ll have an ownership stake in the team. The wait continues for official confirmation.
Ownership was the sticking point between Penske and Keselowski, who had been in negotiation for Keselowski to remain in the No. 2 Ford Mustang, which he’s driven since 2011. Thirty-four of Keselowski’s 35 wins in the NASCAR Cup Series have come with Penske, and they also won the 2010 Xfinity Series championship and the 2012 Cup Series championship.
“We’d expected to get Brad in another two or three years based on the term that he probably wanted to race,” Penske said. “Unfortunately, and good for him quite honestly, he wanted to have ownership, and the way we’re structured, that just wasn’t available at Team Penske.
“When you think about Brad, what he’s done for us (in) Xfinity and Cup, he’s got over 75 race wins, he’s the leader in the clubhouse from a team perspective. Our first Xfinity championship, the NASCAR championship, and then where he’s run in the playoffs here lately, couldn’t be a better guy. I have a lot to thank him for. I can always say he was a consistent performer, a very winning operation guy with our team. Brought a lot to it. He was a student of the sport, and we’re sorry to see him go, but on the other hand, we’ve got a season to finish out. This was not a disagreement or anything else, this was a business decision that was made on both sides fairly and squarely, and quite honestly, Brad will be a friend of the family and a friend of the team forever.”
Keselowski’s desire to have an ownership stake in the Penske organization was not an unexpected development. Penske acknowledged he and Keselowski had discussed it over the years.
“But the way we’re structured at Penske Corp. and the subsidiaries that we have, it wouldn’t work out, and he understood that,” Penske said. “I think that as we came to the end of our contract at the end of last year, obviously he looked to see what was there, I’m sure.
“Basically, the final meeting we had, he said that he had an opportunity that would give him ownership, and I said that we wouldn’t have that available. It was amicable all the way. It still is. Brad has done a hell of a job for us, and I think that he’ll bring a lot of value to Roush Yates in the future.”
Initial discussion between the two began in late 2020 and then picked back up after the holidays. Penske said Keselowski was “open at that point” with no deal in place, and they were thinking about a three-year extension. Penske also noted that the last time Keselowski’s contract was being worked on, he was offered a two-year deal, and Keselowski took one year. That new agreement was announced in August.
“So, this wasn’t a shotgun situation,” said Penske. “It was well-planned, well managed, and we came to the decision.”
In a statement posted on social media, Keselowski reflected on his time with Penske and said it “was a difficult” decision to part ways. Keselowski also said he is eager to share “what’s next for me soon.”
— Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) July 15, 2021