|DIBENNEDETTO NASCAR'S ROCKY BALBOA
|FROM JOURNEYMAN DRIVER TO HALL OF FAMER
|WINNERS NOT ADDING UP
|THE 600 IS STILL A CROWN JEWEL
|NEXT TWO WEEKS COULD BE TOO GOOD
|WALTRIP A TWO-WAY HALL OF FAMER
BAD NEWS BUT HOPEFULLY A HAPPY ENDING
When Brad Keselowski decided he needed to shutter his Camping World Truck Series team at the end of the season it was not good news for a lot of people. In the end, however, he hopes it leads to a happy ending and many more years in the sport after he decides to hang up the helmet.
It certainly didn't help NASCAR a marquee name like Keselowski had waved the white flag of surrender for a series that is still struggling for its identity, attendance, and sponsorship dollars. Although he had several other reasons, the cost of running a truck team versus income is way out of whack and if Keselowski was making money or was even close to breaking even he wouldn't be closing up shop. "Probably not," he said. "Certainly at some
Even though this would be a negative headline for NASCAR, Keselowski said there was no reason to reach out to them before going public. "It's not really NASCAR's responsibility to look out for me or my team. There's a little bit of good faith there, but I knew going into this deal that the burden is on me to make it work, so I wouldn't blame them for anything."
And even though his actions seem to be saying there was no future in the Camping World Truck Series, Keselowski explained, "The Truck Series has been around a long time. It's going to be around a lot longer than me, so I'm not so self-centered to think that series is based solely on my team and participation. It'll be around. It'll be all right."
His two young drivers, Austin Cindric and Chase Briscoe, certainly hope that's the case because they both will need a new ride. Keselowski believes the two will land on their feet, "I think Austin has got his game face on and is focused. Chase, of course, he's got more to work through without having an open-wheel past and stuff that Austin has to go through. Chase is what I would call a Sunday driver. He's not there yet, but he's one of those guys that is so talented that I have a feeling he's going be just as strong if not stronger for it."
Keselowski's decision undoubtedly was of great concern among all the crew members as well, although for the majority new jobs have been found. "I feel like we'll be able to find a good home for probably 75 percent of the group, whether that's new business opportunities, Team Penske or different things I still need people for within the fold that I have. I feel really bad for the 25 percent that I'm not going to be able to find a spot for, but I'm wishing them the best and thankful for their help over the years."
Breaking the bad news to the army that had gone to war for him was also the toughest thing Keselowski had to do. "Being a business owner it's more about the people than anything else. You care about them and they give you their all, and you want to give them
In the end, it all came down to Keselowski's desire to one day own a Monster Energy Cup Series team. In order to follow, though, the footsteps of a Roger Penske or a Rick Hendrick, the 33-year-old knows he has to be making a lot of money somewhere else. Reading between the lines, Keselowski will take the millions he was losing running a truck team and plow it into businesses that will someday be big enough to fund his ambitious ambitions. "I want to be positioned to have the best opportunities possible when I get done being a race car driver, and one of those opportunities is to be a team owner. For that to have any chance of being successful, it's going to be critical for me to have all of my ducks in a row specific to having other income-generating businesses. This is the only way I could get the opportunity to do that, so I feel like it's the right decision."
"I don't know where the future is going to take me in my life," Keselowski added. "I know that I'm trying to be positioned to have as many opportunities as possible to kind of control what that might be, and this is a necessary step business-wise to have those opportunities. It's not really the most pleasurable one to undertake. In fact, it really kind of stinks, but it was the right move long-term and I'm hopeful that it works out for the best."