Brad Keselowski signed an extension to remain at Team Penske on Monday. But, that comes less than 24 hours after his comments made about the free agent market and why it’s hard for drivers like his stature to find future deals.
See, Keselowski is one of the few currently operating on older contracts. Those are ones where the team spent a lot of money on salaries because they weren’t sponsor dependent.
But, as costs to operating a Cup team grow and the sponsorship dollars shrinking, its causing a shift in business models.
No longer is just one or even two sponsors needed for an entire Cup season. The days of that are unfortunately long gone. Now, you need to piece the 36 races together by several companies.
When Keselowski came to Penske, he took over a car mainly donned by Miller Lite. Now, there’s several sponsors for Keselowski during the course of a season which Miller Lite only only two races overall for them.
So, in order to sign Keselowski to what he deserves, the team needs high sponsorship dollars.
Hence a big pay cut or an incentive based pay. That hurts drivers like Keselowski who know they are worth millions and know they actually deserve a raise and not a demotion. How can one willingly make $10 million, again just a made up number here, be a championship contender each year and win multiple races in a season, then take a huge pay cut to continue on? Shouldn’t they deserve a raise?
On top of that, the landscape is changing because drivers want top rides still and some are not only saying that they’ll drive for far less, they even bring money via a sponsor too.
That hurts the value of the top end free agents like Keselowski.
“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.”
Penske, took a chance at Keselowski I’m assuming — hence the new deal. I’d think that Keselowski is taking a pay cut, but Penske raised the offer to meet somewhere in the middle.
Glad to see this happen because too many younger drivers are coming through the ranks with money but also lack talent and taking rides away from drivers like Keselowski. Score a win in the column for the veterans here.