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Keselowski: Ending Truck Program Is About His Future

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, August 18 2017

Brad Keselowski announced this week that he will disband his Camping World Truck Series team. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Andrew Coppley)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

Bristol, Tenn.  – Earlier this year, NASCAR lost Red Horse Racing, one of the Camping World Truck Series premier teams. Now it’s losing another at the end of the season in Brad Keselowski Racing.

Keselowski shocked the motorsports community Thursday when he announced he would shutter the doors on his truck team at the end of the 2017 season.  The 2012 NASCAR Cup series champion said Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway he probably wouldn’t have made the decision if the team had made money, but he noted that wasn’t the sole factor.

“There were a lot of decisions that went into it,” said Keselowski, who has fielded trucks in NASCAR competition since 2008. “At some point every business needs to have some profitability, but I never went into it expecting to make money, so I can’t really blame that.”

Instead, Keselowski appears to be looking at his future; one that could include owning a team in NASCAR’s Monster Energy Series. In a prepared statement released Thursday, Keselowski said he wanted to start preparing for that time now. He said part of that preparation would be to develop an advanced engineering and manufacturing company that would be housed in his 78,000-square-foot facility in Statesville, N.C. He said Friday he was in the “middle of putting all that together.”

“I don’t know where the future is going to take me in my life,” Keselowski said Friday. “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.

“The biggest thing is 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.

“If you look at all the business owners at this level – and really all three of these levels – they have a sustainable, profitable business outside of motorsports and that’s going to remain the key for any owner to have success because the reality is I can only be a race car driver for so long. When that time comes up, my business would have had to shut down because I don’t have a profit center, and having that profit center is what helps you get through the ebbs-and-flows that every race team has. So I need to have one of those profit centers. That doesn’t mean that I’ll be a Cup owner one day, but that means when the time is right, if we achieve the goals that I have, I’ll have the opportunity to make that decision myself and not have it made for me. I don’t feel like we’re done yet. We’re just going a different path.”

Keselowski plans to liquidate the trucks and parts, but keep a “good part of the equipment” and utilize it in the future. He believes he’ll be able to find a “good home” for about 75 percent of his employees.

Keselowski’s organization currently fields Fords F-150s for Chase Briscoe, 22, and 18-year-old Austin Cindric, both in their first full season of truck competition.

“I feel really bad for the 25 percent that I’m not gonna be able to find a spot for,” Keselowski said. “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 your all. In some ways, you feel like you’re letting them down when you’re not able to keep it going. So that’s never any fun.”

Keselowski admitted his decision was made in the same time frame as his contract renewal with Team Penske, but it wasn’t the sole reason.

Even though Keselowski is exiting the truck series where his parents once fielded a team, the Michigan native believes the series is still a viable one.

“The Truck Series has been around a long time (since 1995),” Keselowski said. “It’s gonna 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’s not really NASCAR’s responsibility to look out for me or my team. I knew going into this deal that the burden is on me to make it work, so I wouldn’t blame them for anything.”   

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, August 18 2017
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