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DOVER, DELAWARE - MAY 16: Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Wurth/UTI Ford, walks the grid during the NASCAR Cup Series Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway on May 16, 2021 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) | Getty Images
DOVER, DELAWARE - MAY 16: Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Wurth/UTI Ford, walks the grid during the NASCAR Cup Series Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway on May 16, 2021 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Brad Keselowski to assume leadership role as new Roush Fenway Racing partner

Brad Keselowski says he feels like an investor buying a stock that’s about to go up.

That was the optimistic attitude all parties expressed Tuesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, where Keselowski was announced as the new minority partner and driver with Roush Fenway Racing (RFR), effective at the end of the 2021 season.

A former team owner in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Keselowski is purchasing a piece of RFR, jointly owned by founder Jack Roush and the Fenway Sports Group. At the end of the season, he will leave the No. 2 Ford at Team Penske, where he has claimed 34 of his 35 career Cup wins, a NASCAR Cup Series championship and a NASCAR Xfinity Series championship.

In 2022, concurrent with the introduction of NASCAR’s Next Gen Cup car, Keselowski will drive the No. 6 Roush Fenway Ford, replacing Ryan Newman in that ride. Chris Buescher will continue to drive the No. 17 Ford for the organization.

In the process, Keselowski will adopt a leadership role with the team as well as an ownership interest, cementing a succession plan for Roush, who turned 79 in April.

“It’s an incredible opportunity,” Keselowski said during the announcement. “There were four key components for me. To have a long-term driving contract was something I valued. I want to stay in one place and be there for a long time, hopefully for the rest of my career. That’s the intent and the goal.

“The second position which was really important to me was to be in a leadership role… to be able to express myself creatively and be able to lead the company and team to be the best it can be. That was really critical to me.

“The third thing was of course the ownership position. That’s quite a unique opportunity that really excites me… It represents growth for me, personally and professionally, which is very important. And that’s really the fourth point, to have a role in the sport after I’m done driving.”

Keselowski’s entrance gives Roush an exit plan—but it’s not one he’s ready to exercise just yet.

“I welcome him as a partner, and I look forward to what we can do together,” Roush said. “I’ve been asked to say that I’m passing the baton to him, which I am, but I still have one hand on the thing, so I’m not going to give it up completely for a while.

“There are no retirement plans for me in my immediate future. I intend to keep going to the race tracks and to be as much of a nuisance and a distraction to my drivers and my crew chiefs as I have been in the past.”

As is the organization’s custom, RFR president Steve Newmark declined to reveal the specific financial details of the partnership. Roush and the Fenway Sports Group have operated 50-50 partners before the addition of Keselowski to the mix.

“He’s obviously purchased a minority interest,” Newmark said, “but he’s not technically buying from either Roush or Fenway… The way we look at it is we basically have three partners going forward.”

Roush Fenway Racing has discussed with Newman the prospect of driving a third car on a part-time basis, pending available resources, but nothing has been decided on that front.

With the Fenway presence in the partnership, Keselowski, a Michigan native, was asked whether he would have to switch his allegiance from the Detroit Tigers to the Boston Red Sox.

“Well, we haven’t had those discussions yet,” Keselowski said. “Right now, there’s a lot more to cheer for in Boston than there is in Detroit, so I think I’ll remain a fair-weather fan for years to come.”

— NASCAR Wire Service —