On the Hot Seat: Brad Keselowski is the second installment in a series examining drivers who might be in a different spot for next season. This may be due to contract prospects, developments in the sport, or evolving interests.
By all accounts, Brad Keselowski is in the prime of his career. The 2012 NASCAR Cup Series Champion currently drives the No. 2 Ford for Team Penske, where he has been their driver since 2010. All but one of Keselowski’s 34 Cup Series wins are with Team Penske, as well as his 2012 Championship. Keselowski is a premier driver in the sport and can be counted on for several wins per year. He also has two appearances in the Championship 4, most recently in 2020. Despite all of this, there is significant uncertainty as to the prospects for Keselowski at Team Penske.
The 2020 season had quite possibly, the hottest open seat in recent NASCAR memory. Seven-time Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson was retiring and vacating the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Brad Keselowski was heavily rumored to be on the short-list for that ride. At the time, Keselowski was at the end of his contract and a free agent at the end of the 2020 season. There were rumors about friction between Keselowski and the Penske organization regarding the pre-season crew chief shuffle. There was also significant conflict with teammate Joey Logano. The 2020 speculation was finally put to rest in August when it was announced that Keselowski had signed a one-year extension with Team Penske through the 2021 season.
2021 More Friction, More Speculation
Since Keselowski is once again a free agent at the end of the 2021 season, speculation is resuming about his prospects for 2022 and beyond. It seems the friction with teammate Joey Logano has not cooled off. There were several reports that the pair went more than a week without speaking to each other after a fiery last-lap crash in the Daytona 500. All the factors that fueled the rumors about Keselowski leaving Team Penske in 2020 are right back in play for 2021. The season is only two races old, but silly season never ends!
A Potential Huge Move
Brad Keselowski leaving Team Penske would likely be the biggest team chance since Dale Earnhardt Jr left his family’s team for Hendrick Motorsports. It’s not often that a driver in his prime leaves a team in which he consistently contends for wins and championships; however, that may well be the case for Brad Keselowski this year. A driver with his talent will most certainly have his pick of where he wants to drive, and being in the hot seat gives Brad Keselowski a great opportunity to make an already great career even greater!