Brad Keselowski has been asked several times since May about the status of his future contract talks with Team Penske. The 2012 series champion is a free agent at seasons end. So was his teammate Ryan Blaney but the younger driver received a multi-year extension back in March. Meanwhile, Keselowski’s future with the organization looks bleaker and bleaker by the week.
Yes, he says all the right things about expecting and wanting to be back, but lets be honest, it’s getting late in the game and with Keselowski being the all-time career wins leader for the storied organization and a past champion, don’t you think a deal would have been done by now?
“It’s certainly been much different than years previous in my career,” said Keselowski of silly season. “Nobody likes it. There’s nobody really winning, I can tell you that. You try to keep perspective.
“I still have a great job. A lot of people don’t have a job at all. I don’t think what they want to do is hear me whine about mine.
“But then again, I do recognize if my contract had fallen differently, I would probably be in a much better place with respect to when it ran out time-wise. It’s part of it.
“The landscape is very strange, not just because of the virus, but I think one of the things that really stands out that’s changed the landscape is the threshold or the bar, so to speak, you have to pass as a driver to be eligible for the Cup Series. It’s been lowered significantly since I’ve been a part of the sport.
“That’s starting to bring a wave of kind of paid drivers, so to speak, drivers that pay for their ride. That really does a lot of damage to the contract market when there’s drivers out there that are willing to pay for your ride, let alone you getting paid. They’re willing to pay to take your ride. That really changes the marketplace pretty dramatically. So that’s been part of it, too.
“But all in all, again, I’m thankful to have a spot in the sport. Hoping it will last for a long time. If it doesn’t, I know I did all I could do.”
Still, under that type of pressure, Keselowski looks to be driving as good now as he ever has. The Michigan native has three wins on the season with only Denny Hamlin (5) and Kevin Harvick (4) having more. No one has more stage wins than him and only the same two (Hamlin/Harvick) have more playoff points than Keselowski’s 21.
The next best is Joey Logano at 14.
As you can see, Keselowski has a path to the Championship 4. He also has five straight top 10 finishes on the season including two straight top two’s. Over the last 15 races on the season, he has a top 11 in 14 of them.
“Proud of my team, Jeremy Bullins, how things have been coming together,” said Keselowski of his win on Sunday. “Still a lot of racing left in this season. Gosh, I would love to make a run at that championship. I’m dying to get the second championship.
“We’ve been knocking on the door the last few years, had some run-ins, some bumps and bruises. Looks like we’ll have a shot at it this year. I’m really thrilled to death about that.”
Keselowski notes that he’s always had great teams with Penske but they’ve fell into a just good enough mantra prior to this season.
“I’ve had a great team since I’ve been here in Cup. What do they say: Good is the enemy of great. Sometimes I’ve allowed myself to fall into that good category. Good isn’t good enough,” said Keselowski.
“This has been a really good challenge for me. In a lot of ways it removes some sacred cows in the ways I approach things. I think that’s a good thing. The low downforce on the cars this year is really clicking with me on the short tracks, which is good. Like I said, to remove the sacred cows from me and my way of thinking, that can be really healthy.”
He’s quietly flying under the radar and is a free agent. Maybe we should start paying more attention to him.