Talent knows talent.
So when Brad Keselowski formed his own Camping World Truck Series team, he was able to recruit drivers with the potential to be successful in the sport. Every young Brad Keselowski Racing full-timer climbed the NASCAR ladder and made it to the sport’s top rung in some manner. Three of the six have championship-contending rides for 2021; another is already set for 2022.
“They’re successful for their own reasons, it’s not just because of me,” Keselowski, the 2012 NASCAR Cup Series champion, said Tuesday on a Zoom teleconference. “But to know that I played a part in that along the way is pretty cool to me. It makes me feel like I was able to leave a mark on the sport that was greater than just driving and to really pay it back in a number of ways.”
RELATED: Brad Keselowski through the years
BKR opened its doors in 2007 as it ran a handful of ARCA races before running Trucks in 2008 and closed them at the conclusion of the 2017 season for financial reasons. Austin Cindric and Chase Briscoe were the last to pilot BKR trucks, and they finished third and sixth, respectively, in the standings that final year. Both tallied one win, with Briscoe actually winning the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway right before the shutdown.
Briscoe will fill Stewart-Haas Racing’s void in the Cup Series in 2021, making his debut among the sport’s best, while Cindric plans to move up the ranks in 2022 with Wood Brothers Racing. Cindric has one more season left in the Xfinity Series, steering the same Team Penske entry he won a title with in 2020.
“It’s been pretty incredible to see how many incredible drivers came from BKR and have success in all of the series,” Briscoe said. “Definitely has a good eye for talent. Glad to be one of the guys that got to drive for Brad because it’s certainly an impressive list.”
In addition to Briscoe and Cindric, the list of current Cup Series contenders includes Team Penske teammate Ryan Blaney and Richard Childress Racing sophomore Tyler Reddick. Daniel Hemric used to race in the Cup Series but will drive for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Xfinity Series in 2021. Parker Kligerman was full time in the Xfinity Series in 2013 and has had a host of part-time rides in the Cup and Truck ranks and also works as a pit road reporter for NBC Sports.
And then it’s also worth mentioning Ross Chastain, who worked in a 14-race, part-time role with BKR in 2013. He’ll be running his first full Cup Series schedule in 2021, joining Chip Ganassi Racing.
“You never forget those people who give you shots – out of nowhere,” Blaney said. “We were just running for a small team at the time. Brad was very generous enough to give us an opportunity, and we were just really fortunate it worked out. … I still look at him as a mentor and a teammate now – and a friend.”
Blaney handed BKR its first win in 2012 at Iowa Speedway. The organization ended up with 11 victories overall across six drivers (Blaney-4, Keselowski-1, Joey Logano-1, Reddick-3, Briscoe-1, Cindric-1). Its best standings finish was second, as Blaney and Reddick were back-to-back runner-ups in 2014 and 2015.
A championship was never quite accomplished at BKR. The idea of reviving his team, though, has crossed Keselowski’s mind.
“I know there will be a day when I can’t be a race-car driver anymore,” Keselowski said. “That’s the bittersweet day that’s in front of me. And when that day comes, I don’t want to just leave the sport behind. I would like to still be able to have a reason to come to a race track other than just to watch. What that will be in the future, I don’t know. I can’t sit here today and say that I have that answer.
“But I do have a love for the sport that started at an early age and don’t suspect will end when I’m done driving.”