Passing the baton: Keselowski, Roush lead RFK Racing together into 2022

CONCORD, N.C. — Brad Keselowski was referred to as “the spark” numerous times Tuesday during Roush Fenway Racing’s rebrand unveil at Charlotte Motor Speedway. If that’s the case, team owner Jack Roush kept the embers hot and burning over the years.

Together, they hope to recreate a full-fledged fire with what is now known as RFK Racing come the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season.

“I think on the surface, when you look at them, you may not think that they are aligned and similar,” president Steve Newmark said. “But I think Chris Buescher characterized it best, I’ll share with you, when he said Brad Keselowski is more like Jack Roush than any other driver in the garage.”

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Buescher is now Keselowski’s sole teammate. Keselowski and Roush announced their partnership back in July, and since the 2021 season concluded two weeks ago, they’re officially a duo. Keselowski is now the driver of the No. 6 Ford and a part owner of RFK Racing. Buescher will pilot the No. 17 car.

While Keselowski came into the organization prepped with ideas for change – for example, the recent facility updates – he has also perfectly fit into the mold Roush has built. Again, similar characteristics at play.

“They’re extremely cerebral,” Newmark said. “They are very detail-oriented and thoughtful. They are going to immerse themselves in everything. They don’t believe that hey, this stuff is below me. …

“(Brad) also recognizes that every person in the company matters. And that was always very important to Jack. He said, ‘Everybody contributes and we should treat everybody with respect regardless of where they are in the hierarchy.’ And I’ve seen that right away from Brad.”

Roush is 79 years old and held ownership in the Cup Series since 1988. Keselowski, now 37, had his first taste of Cup competition in 2008 and started full-time racing in 2010.

The head boss jokes he hasn’t made up his mind about the youngster yet.

“We are still circling one another,” Roush said. “Haven’t gotten the full measure of the size of the other dog.”

Meanwhile, Keselowski is well aware of who he has joined — a NASCAR Hall of Famer.

“I’ve got a lot of wins to catch up on,” Keselowski said. “He’s got, I think we said the other day, 300-plus NASCAR wins. I haven’t gotten to 100, I would like to get to 100 as a driver. But even if I do, I’ll still be 200 behind him. So, a lot of work to do.”

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Roush has tallied 325 NASCAR national series wins as an owner. That breaks down into 137 at the Cup Series level, 138 in the Xfinity Series and 50 in the Camping World Truck Series.

Keselowski holds 75 victories as a driver. He has won 35 races in the Cup Series, including one this past season, 39 in the Xfinity Series and one in the Camping World Truck Series. He does have prior Trucks ownership experience, where he added 11 wins.

“I’ll be able to back away some and to not go to all the races and not be the first one on top of the pit box and the last one in my car to go home as I’ve been in the past for most of my time,” Roush said. “I enjoy passing the baton to Brad. Steve questioned me if I was really willing to do that and I said, ‘Well, as long as I can keep one hand on it for a while, it will work for me.’ “