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Ford Performance NASCAR: Brad Keselowski Joining Roush Fenway Racing in 2022

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
NASCAR Cup Series
Roush Fenway Racing Announcement | Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Earlier today it was announced that Brad Keselowski will be joining Roush Fenway Racing as a full-time driver and minority owner of the organization beginning in 2022.  A press conference was held at the NASCAR Hall of Fame to discuss the deal, which included Jack Roush and Steve Newmark of Roush Fenway Racing, Ed Weiss of the Fenway Sports Group and Keselowski.

Here is a transcript of their on-stage remarks, along with the Q&A session:

STEVE NEWMARK, President, Roush Fenway Racing – “I’m thrilled to confirm that Roush Fenway Racing and Brad Keselowski will be starting a partnership in 2022.  This is an unbelievably unique arrangement for us and it’s something that solidifies and fortifies our future and guarantees that we’re gonna be at the top and trying to excel for decades to come, so the transaction essentially has three pieces.  That’s why we kind of say it’s a little bit different than the normal arrangement we’ve entered into in the past, and the first is that Brad will be behind the wheel of the No. 6 car starting in 2022 and will pilot that vehicle for years to come.  He will also be purchasing a minority ownership stake in the company, so along with Roush Industries and Jack and the Fenway Group – that triumvirate will lead us from a strategic perspective for years to come and then, very importantly, Brad will also be assuming a leadership mantle at our organization.  Even while he’s driving he will be on the competition committee and then once his driving career runs its course, whenever that may be and whenever he decides that’s the time, he will shift over into an even greater role leading our competition side.  From our perspective, this is our next step in the evolution of our team and we’re extremely confident this will allow us to excel for years to come.  Before I pass it back, I really do want to express to Brad and Paige and the girls how excited the Roush Fenway family is to be bringing the whole Keselowski group into our team and we’re really excited to have an anchor for our organization for decades to come.”

HOW DID THIS COME TOGETHER WITH BRAD?  “As you can probably appreciate, this was not a short, reactive process.  This has been something that has been kind of brewing and coming together over months, and, in fact, it really stemmed from the fact that Brad and I have been friends over the years in the garage and over those years we’ve regularly gotten together a couple times a year just to talk about the state of the sport, talk about the direction, whether that’s the charter system, stage racing and particularly in my prior role with the team owner council, I relied quite a bit on Brad for input from the driver side.  I think, as many of you know, Brad is one of the more cerebral and thoughtful drivers in the garage and I really valued his opinion, so some time in the fall we were having one of those conversations and Brad asked what the Roush Fenway ownership group thought about the Next Gen transition, so it was a lot of focus on where we were headed with Next Gen and I was able to tell him unequivocably that from the Fenway and the Roush perspective we think that Next Gen is a pivot point for the sport and is one that our owners are committed to investing and continuing to build upon, and I think more importantly stepping back we talked about how our ownership group really believes that NASCAR is going in the right direction and really bullish on the future and a lot of that stems from the leadership provided by Jim France, Steve Phelps and Steve O’Donnell and a lot of the initiatives around Next Gen, social initiatives, e-sports and so we talked a lot about the future and why we were coming up with five and 10 year plans, but we also explained that there was kind of a hole in our strategy going forward in that one of the things that we were looking for at Roush Fenway is a more solid succession plan.  As Jack has told me from day one, it’s his goal that this company exist long beyond when he’s working 24 hours a day to make the cars go faster, and so I said that is what our primary focus was.  At the same time Brad explained where he was from a career position and started to describe that he loved driving and that’s obviously his primary goal is to win championships now, but importantly he was looking at what was beyond that and he had always aspired to be a leader and make sure that he stayed in this sport and he agreed with the narrative about where this sport was going, so that really started a series of dialogues about a potential partnership, and it wasn’t something that we just jumped into.  There was actually no ownership even discussed in the first several meetings and over the next few months I socialized it with our board and I think what was really important to our board was it’s obviously a win if you can get a Hall of Fame driver to get behind the wheel of one of your cars.  That’s always gonna make your organization better, but from our perspective what was more important was the leadership skills that Brad brings, and if you look at his history and his career, he was essentially discovered by Dale Jr., started at JR Motorsports and, at the time, they hadn’t won on the racetrack and Dale and Brad and I’m sure many others worked together to help elevate that organization, which is now one of the premier Xfinity teams out there.  The same with Penske Racing.  Obviously, Brad joined Roger and Walt and Tim and Bud in one of the premier motorsports organizations globally and he helped to elevate, along with that team, to championships, wins and we’ve all seen the success that they’ve had, and I think that was what was so appealing to our organization was that Brad could bring that type of leadership and vision and would work with Jack going forward to make sure that we stayed at the top of our game.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI – CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHY THIS MADE SO MUCH SENSE FOR YOU TO DO THIS?  “Thank you to Mr. Jack for this opportunity.  The confidence that you’ve shown to allow me to do this is really remarkable and I appreciate it very much, along with Mr. John Henry and to you Mr. Ed Weiss and the whole Fenway team as well.  The support embrace that you guys have shown is a big part of the reason why this became a reality, and then I would be remiss not to recognize Team Penske and everything they’ve done for me and my career.  I’m still competing with them, of course, through the 2021 season with the goal of winning a championship.  I want to leave Team Penske with a championship to come here to this new opportunity, so full commitment to finishing the year out as strong as possible.  I think hopefully you saw that last week at the racetrack in New Hampshire.  We’re still competing hard for wins and doing everything we can, and it’s been a heck of a journey with Roger Penske and so forth, and the whole team.  I’m really proud of it.  I’d be remiss to say I’m not a little bit sad to leave some great people and some great friendships, but I’m more so excited, of course, with this opportunity in front of me.  It’s an incredible opportunity and I think digging deeper into that there’s probably a lot of people wondering what I saw here that made it great.  Steve talked a little bit about it, but there were four key components to me.  The ability to have a long-term driving contract was something I valued.  I want to stay at one place and be there for a long time, and hopefully for the rest of my career.  I know that’s the intent and goal, and that position was offered to me that Steve articulated.  The second condition which was really important to me was to be in a leadership role, which, to maybe explain that, we’re forming a competition committee that I’m proud to be a part of leading, so that will come together and I think allow me the freedom to express myself creatively and to lead the company and team to be the best it can be.  That was really critical to me, to be able to have more control over my overall destiny with respect to matters competition related.  The third thing was, of course, the ownership position.  It’s quite a unique opportunity that really excites me.  Ownership is something I think I’ve always articulated to the fans and media.  It was important to me long-term.  It represents growth for me personally and professionally, which is very important, and it creates a deeper tie-in to really the fourth point, which is to have a role in this sport when I’m done driving.  I’m standing here in the NASCAR Hall of Fame and there’s no irony lost on me that a lot of the names that you see in here are still involved in this sport in some way, shape or form past their driving career, but a lot are not.  I cannot see a day where I’m done driving and I don’t want to be a part of this sport, and this opportunity allows me just that – the ability to have a role in this sport past my driving career, so I think those four things were really critical to me.  There were a lot of opportunities that were thrown at me, whether it be by Team Penske or other teams, but not one of them held a candle to this one, so I’m really excited about it.  It was nothing short of a no-brainer for me to take this opportunity, and I know I have a lot of work in front of me.  It’s gonna be tough.   This team has won a lot of races, championships and we have room to grow and to get better.  I’m no doubt committed to doing just that and recognize the challenge that’s ahead, so that challenge – I know it’s gonna be tough – but there are things that give me confidence.  I think, first off, you look at one of the models for me to take on this opportunity was Tony Stewart and what he did with Stewart-Haas Racing.  I think he was probably in a similar position when he joined.  In fact, I was looking through the stats and he had the same amount of wins and was the same age when he moved over to Gene Haas’ team.  That was probably more by coincidence than choice, but that clearly shows you can be successful with this type of arrangement.  There’s certainly quite a precedent there.  Beyond that, of course, the Next Gen coming into the sport should be a significant reset with the technology, a significant reset for the way the processes flow and some of those things that we would need to overcome, so I think kind of taking that down the course of NASCAR leadership and some of the things they have going on, a lot of confidence in where this sport is heading.  I think we’re on a big upswing and I kind of feel like I’m buying into a stock as its about to go up with looking at the landscape.  I would add to it two more things that really add to our confidence that we can be successful.  The front office here at Roush Fenway is exceptional.  I was blown away by some of the things I saw, whether it be the relationship with the Fenway Group and Fenway Sports Management and their ability to land blue chip sponsorships and not just land them, but service them at a very high level – and be the kind of partner that represents them in such a forum that they literally win awards and are recognized for it.  That is a key component to the success of the company.  Everybody knows that if you want to go fast, you’ve got to spend money and you’ve got to have money to do it with, which means having great sponsors and partners that will help us invest in the team to do the things that are required to be successful.  So that was pretty exciting to me.  And probably the last point is I feel like I’ve lived a lot of this experience before as Steve iterated with the experience I had at JR Motorsports coming there and being a part of seeing it become successful and the founding of my truck team in 2010 and watching it grow into a company that could consistently win races and even more so grow people.  Starting next year we’ll have five full-time drivers in the Cup Series that came through that program, and probably dozens more permeating through the garage in different roles.  That was just an exciting thing to be a part of and gives me confidence that we can do the same and hopefully we’ll retain them at the Cup level, but I’m really thrilled about that and the success we’ve had with growing people, and then the last component, of course, is my time at Team Penske.  I’m so proud to have been a part of that, to learn so many different lessons along the path.  I’m really proud of the fact that when I came to Team Penske the car I got in was in similar position in points and standings to the one I’m going to get in next year and in two-and-a-half years time we were able to win a championship.  I carry those same expectations forward and the expectations are very high.  So, I really think all these things considered, I feel like we can be the best NASCAR team and I’m coming here with an expectation no less than that and ready to move forward to be a part of achieving that goal and it starts right here.  Today is the official announcement of that journey.  Thanks for being a part of it and I can’t wait to get started.”

JACK ROUSH, Co-Owner, Roush Fenway Racing – WHAT DOES THIS PARTNERSHIP MEAN TO YOUR LEGACY AND WHAT MADE BRAD THE RIGHT PERSON?  “For 10 years I’ve watched Brad as he came into this sport and had to struggle and fight prejudice sometimes.  He came from the outside region of the southeast, where NASCAR was born and operates most traditionally, but he fought his way in and he earned the space to compete.  He figured out what he needed to do to be a factor and he competed for winning races successfully and he competed to win a championship.  He’s one of the top drivers in the sport.  He’s an inspiration to me for what he’s done with his truck team.  To put it in perspective, we had our great success when we had five teams and a bigger challenge would have been to have one team and realize the improvement you need to having the parts and what those strategies need to be in order to keep the thing moving forward.  Anyway, he was successful with his truck team, which was very impressive to me.  He was competitive as a driver, going to the highest levels of the sport, and in the meantime initiated the start of an aerospace manufacturing service company that has got a great future, so he’s ready for the next challenge, which is participating in the ownership of a team.  I welcome him as a partner and look forward to what we can do together.  I’ve been asked to say that I’m passing my baton to him, which I am, but I still have one hand on the thing, so I’m not gonna give up completely for a while.  There are no retirement plans for me in my immediate future.  I intend to keep going to the racetracks the way I have and to be as much of a nuisance and distraction as I have been to my drivers and crew chiefs in the past.  Over a period of time Brad will earn his independence and he will gain a significant position of ownership in the team.  One of the things that’s been a challenge for me is to answer the questions I’ve gotten over a period of time – ‘When are you going to retire?  What is your succession plan?’  Well, Brad Keselowski and the Next Gen car and the things that we can do together in the near term and the future that we see long-term is my retirement plan and I just hope I can take lots of green flags and lots of checkered flags before we get there.”

ED WEISS, Executive Vice President, Roush Fenway Sports Group – THOUGHTS ON BRAD BECOMING PART OF THE TEAM?  “The first thing I would say is the partnership that the Fenway Group has with Jack and Evan Lyall and with Roush Industries has never been stronger.  It’s a very rare that a 50/50 partnership in sports can be enduring and smooth, but this has been a very long, enduring and smooth relationship from the beginning, so I want to thank you Jack for that.  I can’t think of an issue where we’ve looked at it in different ways and I really look like the selection and the addition of Brad to this partnership is very much in the spirit of our smooth and enduring tradition.  We at our other teams want to compete to win championships every year.  That is our core DNA.  We’re very excited about the trajectory of this sport, but you have to be successful on the track and I think this move is entirely motivated to getting us back to the legacy, what Jack’s legacy is of Roush Fenway being in the hunt for a championship every year, so we’re thrilled to be a part of it with Brad joining us.”

MEDIA Q&A SESSION

BRAD KESELOWSKI – YOU SENT A COUPLE TWEETS THE LAST COUPLE DAYS, A U2 REFERENCE TO WITH OR WITHOUT YOU AND ‘IF YOUR DREAMS DO NOT SCARE YOU, THEY ARE NOT BIG ENOUGH.’  CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THAT?  “This is a big challenge, but it’s a big dream of mine to be an owner and a partner at the NASCAR level with the right ownership group, and I think this is it.  But it’s scary.  I have a great team right now.  I’m not gonna say anything differently, and I’ve been very privileged to drive for Team Penske and to have the success we’ve had.  It’s tough to leave that, and I don’t want to deny that in any shape or form, but this is a big dream of mine that was worth leaving it for.  It’s not an easy transition.  I know the work is gonna be hard and that is scary.  It’s scary to leave something where you know you can be successful to go to a new opportunity, but I believe in this opportunity, but we have to go do the work.  Nobody is gonna give anything to us.  We have to go work for it.”

JACK ROUSH – DID YOU THINK THIS WAS THE RIGHT THING TO DO FROM THE BEGINNING?  “Brad has distinguished himself by taking on more things than he needed to to be successful as a driver and participate in NASCAR.  His truck team was a big challenge, but he wanted to do that apparently in order to get his legs under a team operation, and I can’t say more about how impressed I am with his space age manufacturing of aerospace components.  To take that on as a separate skill set in a totally different industry speaks volumes, so I look forward as Brad finishes his driving career, which hopefully will not be sooner than five years and hopefully I’ll stretch it like I did Mark Martin, I’ll stretch it many more than that if I can.  For him to be willing to think about how he wants to spend his money and enjoy his time off after he stops driving, to have him think about what he could do by participating at the next level in the management of a team, and to enjoy bringing along young people to realize their dreams and to start their careers and to have things develop so that they can have security for their families and all – he’s willing to be a participant and to make his mark in that as well.  Those interests and those motivations fall in line with what I’d hoped for for my drivers and I think it marks a path for other drivers and other owners to think about their legacy plans as the years advance.  You can’t do anything about the advancement of years, you’ve just got to plan to make the most of it.”

STEVE NEWMARK – HOW MUCH OF A STAKE IS BRAD PURCHASING IN THE TEAM AND WHERE IS THAT STAKE COMING FROM?  “As you guys have heard me say before about financial matters or contract matters, we generally don’t get into the details on that, but he is obviously purchasing a minority interest.  Where it’s coming from is a little bit interesting.  He’s not actually buying it technically from Roush or Fenway.  Both of the existing owners have said, ‘Hey, we want to maintain our stake and keep going.’  It’s being issued by the company and the way that we look at it is we have basically three partners operating going forward, and the way that we’ve always done it, as Ed mentioned, it’s not dependent on who owned what piece or how it was a consensus direction on how we move forward, and that’s what we fully expect with Brad, Jack and Fenway as we go forward.  We actually think it’s just gonna make us better and enhance us getting to the next level.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI – HOW MUCH RECONCILIATION DID YOU HAVE TO MAKE ABOUT LEAVING AN ORGANIZATION THE COMPETES FOR CHAMPIONSHIP ON A YEARLY BASIS TO ONE WHERE IT WILL NEED A LITTLE BIT OF WORK TO GET TO THAT LEVEL?  “There’s a workload associated with it that, honestly, I’m excited about.  The reconciliation is certainly there, but I think with the Next Gen car that’s gonna make that a heck of a lot easier.  We have a whole bunch of other plans we’re working on that we’re not ready to announce that I feel confident will be a part of that as well, but ultimately it’s gonna come down to three things – resources, people and processes.  The resources are always shifting.  The Next Gen car represents that shift, so there’s a little bit of a level set there.  The people are always changing and growing, and we’ll continue to work through that.  We want to build a culture that has successful processes, so all those things have to come together to be an elite team, and there’s a lot of changes in the marketplace that make the timing of this the best it possibly could be, so I know nothing happens overnight with respect to making the performance where we want it to be, but if ever there was the landscape to expedite that process, this is it.”

STEVE NEWMARK – IS IT FAIR TO DESCRIBE THE STAKE BRAD IS GETTING AS XX PERCENTAGE OF THE TEAM.  I MEAN, IS THAT WHAT YOU MEAN BY MINORITY OWNER – HE HAS A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF ROUSH FENWAY?  “Absolutely.  He’s buying a minority percentage of the team, and the hope and expectation is that may grow over the years as well.”

WOULD HIS ROLE DOWN THE ROAD INCLUDE A BIGGER PERCENTAGE OF THE TEAM AND COULD THAT INCLUDE RENAMING THE TEAM?  “As far as what the future holds, Brad and I have talked and he’s gonna drive as long as he’s competitive.  If you look at where he is, he’s actually in the prime of his career from an age perspective in NASCAR, which is why it’s so thrilling for us to be able to have him come join our team next year.  Once we get to that point about when he says, ‘Hey, it’s time for me to pass the reigns to another driver, we’ve got a structure set in place where he’ll assume a greater leadership role, but a lot of those details we don’t think are relevant now because they’re so far off into the future, and then we’ll kind of see how things evolve, but one of the things that has been most appealing to us about this transaction is we now have 5-10-15 year strategic plans about how we’re gonna keep growing, getting better.  The owners have committed to continue to invest in this sport around Next Gen, upgrading facilities and so, for us, it really gives us a runway that we think will allow us to excel.”


WOULD YOU CONSIDER ADDING HIS NAME TO THE TEAM NAME EVENTUALLY?  “There is a whole host of things that we’re gonna be changing – structure, partners, and all this – and what we’ve kind of said is that we’re gonna kind of get through this announcement since it’s been brewing for quite some time, and then we’ll circle back with everybody on a lot of the details about what things will look like in 2022 in the coming months.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI – HOW LONG DO YOU WANT TO DRIVE AND DID YOU MAKE ANY EFFORT TO KEEP THE 2?  “The 2 number is Roger Penske’s, so that would not be my place.  Honestly, if I look at the legacy of Jack Roush and the company, the 6 comes first to mind, so I would say that the answer to that is no.  How long do I want to drive?  As long as I can compete to win races and championships.  I feel like I have at least a five-year runway, if not a 10-15 year runway if I start lifting weights like Mark did, and I’m committed to just that.  I want to win races and championships as long as I’m capable to do so.”

DID YOU EVER CONSIDER ASKING FOR THE 29?  “In the back of my mind, yes.  But, quite honestly, in order to live up the legacy that Jack has set, I think the 6 number shows that I’m bought into the company and I don’t particularly feel like I want to force matters of that type at this time as much as I want to be a part of the team and show that I’m a team player and part of living up to Jack’s legacy and continuing it for years to come.”

STEVE NEWMARK – WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE RYAN NEWMAN?  “When Brad and I were first having these discussions, and then when it was ultimately consummated in March, we talked a lot about expansion.  We actually explored whether adding a third team would be the right direction for us and kind of looked at the charter market, which obviously has been appreciating quite a bit recently, and we ultimately decided that the best path for Roush Fenway and for us to achieve our goals next year would be to remain at two teams.  So, I was communicating regularly with Ryan, and I will tell you that ever since we brought Ryan on board several years ago, he has done every single thing that we’ve asked of him.  He came into the company.  He helped us get to the playoffs in his first year.  He helped elevate our competition meetings and then, obviously, in his second year he was on the cusp of winning the Daytona 500 – only a couple hundred yards away – and that didn’t end the way we wanted it to and kind of threw that season out of whack.  Although we haven’t met our expectations this year, we’ve been unbelievably appreciative of what he’s done and so I’ve talked to Ryan regularly, as recently as yesterday, and we’ve talked to him about whether he’d be interested in a part-time role with us, kind of what he wants to do next year, and I think it’s fair to say he’s still trying to make that decision on what’s his best path and what his best course is, so I don’t think he has a timeline on deciding when he’s gonna kind of solidify his plans for 2022.”

JACK ROUSH – DID YOU FEEL YOU HAD TO DO SOMETHING SOON AS FAR AS FINDING SOMEBODY ELSE TO INVEST IN THE TEAM?  “The timing is certainly good.  The reset that’s gonna occur for the Next Gen car creates an opportunity to look at the process and look at the allocation of resources and think about the things that will be different.  I know when you look at what it’s gonna mean to the individual team members, the job descriptions of what they do is gonna change.  We had the discussion with the management of the team yesterday about the tire changers.  It used to be that the most important thing for the tire changer was his hand speed, and looking at one fastener per wheel that we’re gonna have for 2022, I think the leg speed and the ability to move directly around the car is gonna be more important than the hand speed, so as we look at the talents that the individuals have got and what the new car is gonna require, it’s time to make a reset and to change priorities and figure it out to optimize our situation for the future.  Brad has indicated his willingness to take the role of being part of the racing council as we make decisions as a team.  It’s not just up to me to decide what we’re gonna do in a specific area, but now we can make a decision together for what appears to be important from the driver’s seat, what’s important from the management at the racetrack and what’s important for the management at the shop.  The reset is real important to where I think we’re organized for it.  It’s a great time to make the addition of a championship driver like Brad and it gives me a chance to think about not having this thing end when I can no longer function in the team, but to have it continue on for the benefit of the people and the families and the other things that the industry supports and for the community.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI – WILL THIS BE YOUR BEST CHANCE TO WIN THE DAYTONA 500 IN 2022?  “It’s hard to say that next year is the best shot, but it’s a great shot.  I think one of the strengths of the program today is the superspeedway program, no doubt.  Jimmy Fennig is an excellent leader for that side.  It’s one of the areas of strength, for sure, of the company and I expect we’ll be able to go to Daytona and Talladega and immediately contend for wins.  I’m looking to fire off very strong, yes.”

DO YOU FEEL THERE’S A YOUTH MOVEMENT AMONG OWNERSHIP IN NASCAR?  “I feel like there’s a season of change, no doubt.  I don’t see a lot of the ownership going away, but I see some fresher faces.  You look at Jeff Gordon kind of taking a more active role with Hendrick Motorsports, and the Trackhouse transition with Ganassi, and there are probably a few more to come, no doubt.  I think it’s natural over time to see those transitions.  I think it’s a good sign for the sport that it’s going through a little bit of a metamorphosis and I’m proud to be a part of it.  I had to speak for other teams, though, and what their plans are, but I think it’s a good time for NASCAR that the owners are reinvesting in some way, shape or form and remain committed.”

JACK ROUSH – “I think we’re headed out of the dark ages for the business side of the sport.  Any person that knew a lot about the operation of the teams and the competitive challenges would have taken the smart money and invested it in the sport, but now we’re seeing new owners come in with the Next Gen cars – a reset.  We’re seeing new owners come in and I think that Brad’s not the last of the drivers that will say they’d like to have a piece of the action when they get out of the driver’s seat. 

BRAD KESELOWSKI – HOW DO YOU ENVISION YOUR LEADERSHIP POSITION IN THE COMPETITION DEPARTMENT?  “I think it’s a critical role for me and it’s a critical role for me in joining the team, no doubt.  I think it really comes down to the style of management that you have.  I’m a big believer in servant leadership.  A lot of my intention is, yes, to hold people accountable as any leader does, but more so to serve the team in helping them get what they need to be the best they can be, and that means being an active listener as much as setting direction, but helping them achieve their goals and helping them tell us what to do.  There’s the old Steve Jobs saying, ‘We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do, not so I can tell them what to do.’  And I’m a big believer in that, so there’s certainly some work to be done in that area and I’ve got two ears and one mouth, so It’s a pretty easy ratio.”

MUCH LIKE TONY STEWART ATTRACTED MORE TALENT TO STEWART-HAAS, DO YOU SEE SOMETHING SIMILAR HAPPENING AT RFR WITH BRAD’S ADDITION?  “First off, hat’s off to Tony.  What he did over there was amazing and I don’t know if he’s ever gotten the credit that he rightfully deserves.  He took that company that had never won a race and, again, in two-and-a-half to three year’s time won a championship with it.  That was so impressive.  This team, I think, is quite a bit ahead of that position that Tony entered, so I don’t think it would be as tough of a road – and of course the Next Gen reset and all those things should certainly play a factor in it, but one of the key things is Tony did an amazing job of bringing in key talent.  I think we’re always looking at talent.  Things will change.  Teams change.  Companies change over time and people go different places and things like that happen.  I think our eyes and ears are open as talent becomes available at all times, and I’m hopeful that we’ll continue to have an influx of talent with this announcement.  It’s one of the key reasons why we’re here today is to show the world that here’s what we’re doing and to make sure that we’re attracting the best talent as it comes up.”

STEVE NEWMARK – “I think the short answer is absolutely that is our hope and expectation and to piggyback on the last question as well, our expectation is Brad is gonna come in and inject new ideas and new thoughts and bring new innovations to us.  It’s interesting.  When I first shared what we were doing with Chris Buescher this spring, he looked at me and he said, ‘You know Brad Keselowski is the driver that is most like Jack Roush in the garage.’  It didn’t quite connect for me right away, but what he basically said is he is unbelievably driven, relentless, but very analytical in how he thinks about things and the processes that he pursues to achieve his goals.  We’ve seen that just in the last couple weeks, couple days when Jack and Brad have been talking and trying to sit down and sort out what’s the right path for excellence in 2022, so my expectation and our hope is that Jack and Brad will continue to work on ways for us to take advantage of this shift into the Next Gen, and, quite frankly, it won’t be doing it the same way that we’ve been doing it the last few years.”

JACK ROUSH – “One of the challenges that we had was getting this press conference moved up as far back in the summer as we could so that we’d have the opportunity to talk with people who might be considering a change that would be attracted to us and we would be attractive to them.  So, we definitely have our shingle out.  We’re in the business to stay and we’re looking to reset and to move forward with the most aggressive attack at the rules changes and the hardware changes that the Next Gen car has and to reevaluate the skill sets and look at making improvements and ambitions to our organization out of people that are at a point in their career where they’re ready for a change as Brad was.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI – WHAT DOES THIS MOMENT MEAN TO YOU?  “It’s a huge moment.  To be honest, I never dream this big.  I’ve always kind of been a one step at a time guy and when I was a kid my goal was just to be able to stay with my family and be a part of the racing business and life had other plans.  As I grew up, I thought, ‘Man, if I could just have a career in NASCAR, that would be great.’  And then that turned into, ‘If I could just win a race in NASCAR, that would be great.’  And then that turned into, ‘Hey, if I could just make it to the Cup level, that would be great.’  The next thing I knew I was four races in it and I had won a Cup race and I was thinking, ‘You know what would be nice is if I could have a full-time ride and win a championship.’  So, those goals have always kind of elevated and I imagine they always will, and this one was the natural transition from winning a championship and being a part of building a winning company at Team Penske, surely not the only reason but a part of it, and so this is the next evolution for me.  This is the next growth and, quite honestly, I never had any expectation that these opportunities would happen.  I’ve always believed in trying to align yourself for good things to happen, whether that’s the way you train yourself and how you’re constantly reinvesting to other things, and whether it be the truck series team or the manufacturing business, those were moves made very intentionally to align myself for an opportunity like this, but, quite honestly, I had no idea this opportunity was gonna happen.  When it came, though, I knew I was ready for it and I feel like, yeah, there are some parts of it that are scary, without a doubt.  It’s a challenge and it’s not gonna be easy, but I’ve been studying my whole life to be ready for this moment and I’m ready for the test.”

WILL YOU TURN YOUR TIGERS HAT IN FOR A RED SOX HAT NOW?  “We haven’t had that discussion yet.  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-weathered fan for years to come.”

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER STOPS THAT WILL BE A BENEFIT AT RFR?  “A tremendous amount.  As I was talking with my opening remarks, I brought up the strength of the front office at Roush Fenway today, and specifically the ability to leverage the Fenway Sports Management Group, but beyond that this is a very strong front office group in general, and that’s super important.  My strengths are not in that particular category and this company has the strength there that I think aligns with what I would probably recognize as a weakness for myself, so with respect to that, I think that gives me the freedom to focus very heavily on the competition side, to be able to affect change, create a culture of excellence that’s really important to our success, and still have the confidence that we can be a viable, sustainable business for decades to come, and I think Mr. Jack Roush has had a similar approach that’s been very successful and led to a lot of success to date along those same terms.”

JACK ROUSH – YOU’VE ALWAYS HAD ROUSH INDUSTRIES.  BECAUSE OF BRAD HAVING HIS SIDE BUSINESS DO YOU SEE BRAD AS A YOUNG YOU AND THE DRIVE YOU HAD IN BUILDING SUCH AN EMPIRE?  “When I look at Brad I think about the things I went through and the years that he’s put in so far, and I see a lot of similarity in the way he’s accepted the challenge in the things that he’s motivated to do.  I started my Roush Industries business in 1976 and that was years before I started my NASCAR business in 1988.  People asked me why I was going NASCAR racing when I was 46 years old and I had a good success record in drag racing, winning championships, and in road racing winning championship and I said because I thought I could.  And I think the reason Brad is wanting to grab a hold of this tiger’s tail and whip it into shape is that he thinks he can, and I’m cheering for him because he’s got energy at his age that I expended at my age and we’re anxious to see what he can do with it going forward.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI – WHEN IS YOUR OFFICIAL START DATE?  “I think right now, first off, I will not start this role until the season is over in 2021.  I have commitments and contracts with Team Penske that I fully intend to honor at the highest level possible, so there will certainly be a time period here where we’re the Darrell Waltrip term ‘frienemies’, so we’re competing against each other with an expectation that we each have individually to beat each other, and then certainly we’ll come back together, but when that time is right.  Certainly, it’s an interesting dynamic.  I don’t think in any other sport you compete against a team you’re about to join, at least not that I know of, so it is a unique relationship, but we all have contracts and obligations we need to fulfill at this current time.”

STEVE NEWMARK – WHO GETS TO REVIEW THE RESUMES FOR JOB OPENINGS?  “Like anything, we’ve got a wonderful sport, but everybody lives together, so if you compare us to stick and ball sports, where the teams are scattered around the country, our whole industry is right here, so there’s always discussions going on between different teams as people try to recruit and upgrade their talent.  We are very blessed to have a phenomenal foundation at Roush and we’ve got a lot of unbelievable folks that work under the Roush Fenway umbrella, but I think as with any team, you can’t be stagnate and we’ve got to keep trying to get better, and the nice thing is that as we go into the Next Gen world, we’re not gonna be contracting.  We don’t envision our workforce getting smaller, even though there are a lot of efficiencies with Next Gen, for us to get where we need to be, we’re looking to expand, so we’ll be adding positions.  Those will come in through all different channels, but ultimately, particularly at the highest levels, you’ll have Jack and Brad will be making the call on the direction that we go on the competition side.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI – HOW DID YOU BREAK THE NEWS TO ROGER?  HOW DID THAT MEETING GO AND I ASSUME IT WAS FACE TO FACE.  “I was able to have that conversation with him and that wasn’t an easy conversation, I think, for either side.  For me, at least, it was kind of a tough goodbye in some terms, but I think Mr. Penske was a consummate professional and I think he understood, and I know he spoke to a lot of you guys already about that, so it certainly wasn’t an easy conversation, but part of the process and I was glad I got to be able to talk to him.”

DID YOU EXPRESS THOSE FOUR THINGS YOU WANTED TO ROGER PENSKE AND WAS THERE FRUSTRATION WHEN YOU REALIZED IT WASN’T GOING TO HAPPEN AND YOUR FUTURE WOULDN’T BE THERE?  “I think it was pretty well known.  I would hesitate to get into any detail about any negotiations I had with Roger Penske because ultimately the ship has kind of sailed, but I want to express the gratitude I have more so than anything else for the opportunities he’s provided me to date, and don’t want to leave with any other emotion besides that.”

STEVE NEWMARK – “Again, I want to thank everybody for taking the time, but want to express some special gratitude to Mr. Jim France.  I think it is a testament to his passion for the sport.  We see it in the garage everyday about how much he cares and how much of his time he dedicates to the future of this sport, and I think you guys get to see a glimpse of it that he came up from Florida just to stand in his usual spot in the back of the room to make sure that he supports us and that he understands that the sport is in good hands going forward, so thank you.”



The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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