Brad Keselowski hasn’t spent a ton of time in NASCAR media centers lately. NASCAR requires the top 30 drivers in the championship standings to participate in a bullpen early in the weekend. Keselowski’s No. 6 RFK Racing team was penalized after the fourth weekend of the year, falling outside the top 30. Since then, he’s bounced in and out of that 30th spot.
One weekend, like at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Keselowski was 31st in the standings and didn’t have to see the media. But last weekend at World Wide Technology Raceway, Keselowski did make an appearance as the 30th driver.
Media availability aside, bouncing in and out of the top 30 in points hasn’t been fun for the former series champion.
“No, no, not at all,” Keselowski said.
It’s not where Keselowski expected to be in June, either.
“We made initially a lot of headway, and we haven’t had a very good month,” he said. “I felt we were going to have a really good May, and that hasn’t panned out so far. There are a number of reasons for that – some in our control and some not in our control. Charlotte, we didn’t start the race very well, and we finally got to where we were competitive and moving forward, and I thought going to have a solid run and got caught up in a wreck. A lot of people could probably say that last week. So that was unfortunate.
“And we’ve had some other things happen in between. But I’m optimistic we can find the pieces we need to get going. We’ve got some really strong pieces. Unfortunately, the weakest piece is, we’re just not fast enough. We need to find some speed for sure, and frustrating and a bit of a moving target of where that seems to lie week in and week out. But ultimately, it’s our responsibility to get it.”
Keselowski has not had a top-10 finish since the season-opening Daytona 500 (ninth). In eight of 15 races, Keselowski has finished 20th or worse with two DNFs. But he hasn’t changed his mindset.
“Oh, my goals haven’t changed,” he said. “We need to win races and we need to get to a spot where we can contend to win races. We haven’t been there enough. We’ve had probably two or three races where we’ve been close to it, and that’s not near enough. We’ve got to push, and we’ve got to find that next level.”
In his first year as the driver and co-owner of a race team, Keselowski has been balancing new and bigger responsibilities. While he’s had difficult weeks before in his NASCAR Cup Series career, it’s been more on a more consistent basis this season. It used to be that Keselowski was a consistent front runner (and championship contender) and, subsequently, full of media obligations.
“I’m not going to say it’s doesn’t have some kind of draining effect, but every season has its own grueling drain to it in its one way,” Keselowski said. “I take solace in the fact that a lot of the tools to get there, I think I can help shift and work through.”
Neither RFK car is in a playoff position going into Sonoma Raceway. Keselowski understands he needs to win a race, and Chris Buescher does have a waiver after missing WWTR with COVID. But Buescher would also need to win a race to get into the postseason.
“It’s going to be tough for either one of our two teams to make the playoffs, but I’m optimistic,” Keselowski said. “It’s going to take a win. I’m optimistic that we can at any time work through it and find a solution, and I’m committed to doing just that.”