“Legacy” win boosts RFK Racing

Brad Keselowski (6), after congratulating teammate Chris Buescher. (HHP/Chris Owens)

When it was announced in July 2021 that 2012 NASCAR Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski would move to Roush Fenway Racing as driver and part-owner, the team was at rock bottom.

The once mighty five-car team of the early 2000s had shrunk to two teams by 2017, with its last victory that season when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.

However, on Saturday night, Chris Buescher got Roush’s famous name back on the winning track, with a triumphant performance at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.

For RFK Racing, it was the team’s first victory in an unrestricted plate oval since Carl Edwards reigned supreme at “The Last Great Colosseum” in 2014.

Driving the No. 6 RFK Racing Ford, Keselowski seemed to have a date with fate, as he led 109 laps on the 0.533-mile concrete track. However, it wasn’t meant to be for the 38-year-old, after a right front tire fell out with 87 laps to go. Keselowski finished 13e.

After the checkered flag, Keselowski was candid about his emotions, as he balanced missing out on a win as a driver with a win as an owner.

“It’s definitely a good feeling. I have to try to erase my emotions and my memory of not winning the race as a driver and working hard to do it and not achieving it,” Keselowski said. “But I also try to remember to be grateful because it’s very difficult to win races in this sport, even as a car owner. In that sense, it’s a great moment for us. .

“I know for you this is our first win,” Keselowski continued. “I would say Duels (at Daytona) was more like our first win, but you get all that qualifying from points races and exhibition races. I’ll tell you, it felt like our first win.

“But compared to that, it’s a different type of win. It’s a legacy type of win. There are tracks on which winning is always great, don’t get me wrong, but there are Tracks to win at just aren’t as special as some, and Bristol is at the top of the category.Big moment for us.

RFK Racing’s moment on Saturday was one the team had been looking for since the start of the season in February.

With a new regime and a fresh outlook with Keselowski joining the fray at RFK Racing, the No. 6 Ford driver has a clear focus for the team as it continues its resurgence at NASCAR’s top level.

Yes, I mean, we want to be at least a four-car team again. That has always been our goal,” Keselowski said. “Before you can join a four-car team, you have to join a three-car team. Before you can join a three-car team, you have to be relevant as a two-car team.

“For us, again, the relevance is winning races, multiple races a year with your two cars and competing for the playoffs.

“Obviously we’re not in the playoffs with any of our cars, so we still have some work to do,” Keselowski continued. “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.

“It’s a great step forward for us. We still have a long way to go. We need to be able to win several races a year. But before you can do that, you have to win a first race. Take nothing away from today.

Keselowski continues to see how difficult it can be to rebuild a team. Through hardships and growing pains, Keselowski remains optimistic as RFK Racing looks to the future.

“Yeah, I mean it’s painful, but anything in life worth doing is painful,” Keselowski said. “It’s a bit like training. I’ve moved up a weight class here and I need to build a lot more muscle and improve as much as I need on the track.

“There was a lot of room for growth within the company. We’ve made major investments to try to get to where we can get this thing to where it can win, and when you make those investments, you want to get a result out of it, and it’s really important that you get those results when you do them.

“There was a bit of a delay, and part of that – one of our biggest issues is that there were a ton of supply chain issues that probably affected us as much as anyone else this year, or so, and we’re just now starting to make some of those investments, and they’re paying off with results.

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