Brad Keselowski envisions RFK Racing returning to a four-car organization one day, but acknowledges there is plenty of work to be done before that happens.
“That’s been our goal all along,” Keselowski said after Chris Buescher’s win at Bristol Motor Speedway. “Before you can get to a four-car team, you’ve got to get to a three-car team. Before you can get to a three-car team, you have to be relevant as a two-car team. For us, again, relevancy is winning races – multiple races a year with both of your cars, and competing for playoffs.
“Obviously, we’re not in the playoffs with either of our cars, so we have more work to do. But our stated goal internally is to get back to being a four-car team. That’s not going to happen if you’re not winning races and you’re not relevant as a two-car team. This is a good step forward for us. We’ve got a long ways still to go. We need to be able to win multiple races a year, but before you can do that, you’ve got to win the first race.”
Buescher led a race-high 169 laps on his way to his second career win Saturday night. It was the first win Keselowski got to be a part of as the part owner of the company while snapping a five-year drought for the Roush group.
But it wasn’t just Buescher who came out on top, as both he and Keselowski were contenders. Between the two of them, they led 278 of 500 laps. A flat tire took away Keselowski’s chances at victory and he finished 13th.
It’s been a balance for Keselowski on the competition and business sides. Asked Saturday if he was tired by this point in the year, Keselowski said he wasn’t, but he’s probably worn other people out.
“I’m driven,” he said. “I want to see this thing be successful. [Saturday] is a clear sign that it can be successful, but it ain’t going to be successful sitting on our hands. You’ve got to grind it out. That’s a hell of a journey to grind it out.
“I’ll tell you, there are days you look back and say, did I get better today or did I get worse? And more often than not, you have to get worse to get better. That can be really frustrating. It can be letting go of someone who’s good because they’re not great and that ain’t fun; I can tell you that. Then biding it out until you can find great.”
The long fight back to the top continues for the organization. Roush was once a powerhouse organization that qualified multiple cars for the playoffs. It has not had a team in the postseason since Ryan Newman was a participant in 2019, and their two championships came in back-to-back seasons, 2003 and 2004.
Partnering with Keselowski wasn’t the only thing Roush did coming into the season. The organization revamped its competition department to be even more focused on its performance while also shuffling or hiring new personnel. The pit crews underwent changes. And the race shop has undergone some makeovers.
“It can be tearing down the walls in the shop and having a mess everywhere and knowing that’s what needs to be done to be better in six months,” Keselowski said. “It’s a lot of playing the long game and having confidence that we’re doing the right things and that’s not easy because, like I said, anytime we make a change, I think it’s really natural – not just for our company, but for any company – for everyone to go, OK, where is the instant result? There are no instant results.
“Every change, you don’t see a result for six to 12 months. That can be really painful because you start to lose people, and they start to not believe in you. This is a big win for us to kind of regain the confidence of… not just our partners and the external factors that we face, but our internals, as well. I’m excited for them and excited for that for our company.”
Roush has not fielded four full-time cars since 2011.