‘It’s been an interesting year, to say the least,’ says RFK’s Newmark

Nigel Kinrade/Motorsport Images

‘It’s been an interesting year, to say the least,’ says RFK’s Newmark

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‘It’s been an interesting year, to say the least,’ says RFK’s Newmark

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While RFK Racing team president Steve Newmark points out the company is still in transition, he isn’t using that as an excuse.

The 2022 season will mark the beginning of the next chapter for the Roush group. Jack Roush found a successor in Brad Keselowski, a driver and part owner of the company. Personnel was shuffled around. The race shop got a bit of a makeover. A new competition department was set up. Of course, the entire series is adapting to a new car.

“We feel like we’re on an upward trajectory on a lot of different aspects of the company, but there’s no doubt that we’re not where any of us want or expect to be at this point in the season,” Newmark said on The Racing Writer’s Podcast. “Our goal coming into the season was to have both cars in the playoffs and we’re not there yet. There’s still time to do that, and we’ve seen this season has been kind of a crazy one with all the different winners, so we still have optimism that we can get there.

“But there’s no doubt that we bit off a lot this year when you talk about the challenges that the whole industry faced with the shift to the Next Gen car but then … adding a new driver, we restructured our competition side, added a new owner in Brad as well, and just have continued the succession plan on our end which has been well documented with Jack and passing the baton to Brad. So we’ve thrown all of that in in the first few months, and then you layer in a global pandemic and some small supply chain issues that have plagued everyone — it’s been an interesting year, to say the least.”

Keselowski (No. 6) and RFK teammate Buescher have shown speed, but their best races have also been among their unluckiest, reckons Newmark. Motorsport Images

Keselowski’s No. 6 team has been digging out of a hole since being penalized after the fourth race of the season at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He is 29th in the standings with three top-10 finishes.

The 2012 series champion, Keselowski has not missed the postseason under its current format. The championship runner-up in 2020, Keselowski finished sixth in points last year.

Chris Buescher’s season has gone slightly better than his teammate and boss. Buescher has five top-10 finishes, and his No. 17 Ford has shown flashes of speed the last few weeks with solid finishes at the road courses of Sonoma and Road America.

One of the biggest things for Newmark is his being adamant the company had to show improvement this season. Although the results haven’t been there and RFK Racing is yet to hit the high expectations set by all, Newmark can recognize the positives.

“There’s no doubt that we feel like we’ve shown a lot of speed at different times this year,” said Newmark. “Even coming right out of the gate winning both of the Duels, it doesn’t get much better than that and then in the [Daytona] 500 obviously didn’t get the ultimate result that we wanted, but I think Brad led the most laps, finished top 10. Chris was right up there and got into a wreck that unfortunately relegated him not to the finish we thought it warranted. But overall, if you kind of go through the season and break down race by race, it’s been what I’d say is erratic.

“We’ve had some races where both cars have had a lot of speed and then we’ve had some races where we’ve just missed it, and that’s when we’ve started to identify some of the things that ailed us. I think the thing that we probably lament a little bit is a lot of the races in which we’ve had really, really good speed happened to be the races where we’ve had incidents that knocked us out. If you look at Charlotte, the 600, both were running in the top 10. Brad gets caught up in a wreck, I think, on a restart when he’s running sixth when Ryan Blaney blows a tire, and then Chris, who had been running in the top 10 the whole day, obviously at the end when Suarez (spun) and sent Chris kind of barrel rolling down the frontstretch.

“We look at something like that as a microcosm in that the cars were really fast, and we didn’t get the finishes that would have shown that. Now, you make your own luck in this sport, and there’s no doubt about that, so ultimately, it’s on us, but it just seems that some of the races, where quite frankly we haven’t been as good, we’ve had clean races. If you could orchestrate it, you’d say, OK, if you have a 20th-place car, well, let’s have a wheel come off, or let’s have an issue when you’re running there as opposed to when you’re running fifth and trying to figure out how you’re going to get in victory lane.”

The full conversation with Newmark can be heard below, or click here.

MX-5 CUP | ROUND 9 – ROAD AMERICA

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