RFK "right on the fringe" of being regular contenders – Keselowski

Matthew Thacker/Motorsport Images

RFK "right on the fringe" of being regular contenders – Keselowski

NASCAR

RFK "right on the fringe" of being regular contenders – Keselowski

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Without looking at the NASCAR Cup Series point standings, can you name the driver who sits ninth going into Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway?

The answer is Brad Keselowski.

Although he’s a former series champion, there might be an argument to be made that Keselowski is flying under the radar early in the season. Keselowski’s No. 6 RKF Racing team has five top-10 finishes through 11 races, which includes the last two weekends at Talladega Superspeedway and Dover Motor Speedway.

“I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about other people’s reaction; I’ve really had my head down, and I really want us to be able to win with both cars,” Keselowski said on Wednesday. “I want us to grow to where RFK is a legit contender week in and week out.

“We’ve gone from where we kind of were last year, which I would have called the ‘irrelevant’ category, to the ‘relevant’ category – whether people see that or not. I want to get into the category where we’re a weekly contender, and we’re right on the fringe of that.”

Keselowski scored top-five finishes at Atlanta Motor Speedway (second) and Talladega (fifth). But loop data statistics show that only in five races this season has Keselowski averaged a top-10 running position: Daytona, Phoenix, Atlanta, Richmond and Dover.

“Right now, we’re in that fifth to 10th (place) category, I think, pretty regularly,” Keselowski said. “We’re trying to grow and find what it is that we’re missing to get there, and my head has been so down on that I honestly don’t spend a lot of time thinking about others’ perceptions. I just think of my perception, which is we went from irrelevant to relevant, and we’re on the fringe of being contenders week in and week out.”

Daytona, Atlanta, and Richmond are races that Keselowski believes his team had a realistic shot to win. “It’s just a matter of time before one of those clicks,” he said.

Keselowski points to last fall as the turning point. Over the offseason, he said they “added a few more key pieces”; namely, people and resources. Every day is an opportunity for growth.

Three spots behind Keselowski in the championship standings is teammate Chris Buescher. Neither driver made the playoffs last year, but Buescher delivered a big boost with a victory at Bristol Motor Speedway in the fall.

Another concrete track, Dover, was good to the organization last weekend as Buescher and Keselowski finished inside the top 10. The next step is making that commonplace for both entries.

Turning the corner with performance is only half the job for Keselowski. Now into his second season as both a co-owner and driver, he seems more settled handling both sides of the business.

“I have more people around me to support me,” Keselowski said. “We’ve added a lot of talent to the company, which has made my days a little bit easier where I can work through some of the hardships which are still going to happen ,but work through them a little more efficiently and effectively.

“I look at Josh Sell, whom we promoted to our technical director this year. He’s been a big gain. Kevin Kidd, whom we moved into our software and analytics group. He’s helped out a ton. We continue to move people. We brought in a gentleman named Landon Foster to help us with our growing needs and set up development. And we’ve shed some things that probably weren’t too good for us as well, with different programs that weren’t serving us.

“I just think we’re more focused as a company and that transcends not just through me and my role but everyone, and it ends up, of course, equating to better results.”

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