One of the most critical pieces of Brad Keselowski partnering with Roush Fenway Racing beginning next season will be on the competition side.
“I hope it is hugely significant when it all plays out,” team president Steve Newmark said. “We have a lot of respect for what Brad’s done on and off the track, and the hope is that we bring him in, again with the transition to Next Gen, and it really does propel us to greater levels.
“It won’t be easy. It’s not going to just magically happen by having Brad Keselowski sit in a chair in one of our meetings. But we think that the perspective he’ll bring – you know his personality – he’s very analytical, very thoughtful.”
In addition to being a co-owner and driver, Keselowski should bring a fresh perspective to the company. Since joining Team Penske, Keselowski has been a consistent race winner and championship contender, reaching the summit with a title in 2012. Additionally, he’s had multiple wins in eight of his last 11 seasons.
On the other hand, Roush Fenway Racing has spent the last few years trying to get back to its glory days. The organization has gone through many lean years, with only two visits to victory lane in the previous five years, both of which came in 2017. It’s been far longer since a Roush driver was a serious title contender.
The approach to getting back on top will change when Keselowski comes through the door. Keselowski will serve as the head of the competition committee, which is a structure Roush Fenway Racing does not have currently, but which will give Keselowski a “very significant voice” alongside Jack Roush.
“The competition committee is a structure we’re going to put in place,” Newmark said. “It’s not some steep change in how we operate. Obviously, on any team, there is a group of executives that kind of steer the direction; this is just putting a little more formal stamp on it. We think it’ll actually help us prepare for Next Gen and then make sure that we’re nimble enough to see how Next Gen impacts the cars, that we’re changing and evolving quickly to maintain speed on the track.”
Being able to share the news about this next venture with my fans, peers, and the industry is something I’ve been really looking forward to.
This presents an opportunity to continue my on-track success with a strong team, but also dive into my passion of team ownership. pic.twitter.com/bqIut84IrQ
— Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) July 20, 2021
Roush Fenway Racing ended up with a three-for-one deal with Keselowski. While Keselowski said the agreement was a no-brainer for him as he looked for an ownership stake in NASCAR, for Roush, it gave them more than just a successful plan.
“What we ended up with is a Hall of Fame driver in the prime of his career,” Newmark said. “Somebody who wanted to invest and purchase an equity interest and take the leadership mantleRou.”
Overseeing the competition committee gives Keselowski the freedom to express himself creatively and have more control over his overall destiny.
“It’s a critical role for me,” Keselowski said of the competition side of things. “I’m a big believer in servant leadership. A lot of my intention is, yes, to hold people accountable as any leader does, but more so to serve them; serve the team, helping them to be the best they can be, and that means being an active listener as much as setting direction.”
Keselowski admitted the move will be scary and not without challenges, but the dream was worth leaving Penske for. He also didn’t shy away from the high expectations he has for the organization. Now that he’s put his long-term plan in place, it comes down to executing on the track.
“I’m so proud to have been a part of that, to learn so many different lessons along the (way),” Keselowski said. “I’m really proud of the fact that when I came to Team Penske, the car I got in was in a similar position in the point standings as the one I’m going to get in next year, and then in two and a half years’ time, we were able to win a championship. I carry those same expectations forward; the expectations are very high.
“I feel like we can be the best NASCAR team. I’m coming here with an expectation no less than that and ready to move forward to be a part of achieving that goal. It starts right here with today’s official announcement of that journey. I can’t wait to get started.”