With one swipe of the pen, NASCAR’s most sought after up-and-coming free agent was able to once and for all silence the critics. Many thought Brad Keselowski would be driving something, or for that matter anything that had Hendricks’s famous insignia on it next season. Instead, Keselowski opted to not wait around any longer amongst reports that he will continue his NASCAR career with Penske Racing.
All eyes have been on the 25-year-old Michigan native since the beginning of the season, wondering which team would eventually sign him. The most obvious choice looked like HMS, or a team that was somehow affiliated with the most dominant organization in the sport today. Especially since Hendrick had already gotten approval from NASCAR, that would have allowed Keselowski to run a part-time schedule next season.
Keselowski wanted a full-time ride for 2010, and the part-time schedule was not what he was looking for, even though NASCAR was willing to make an exception. Keselowski was not willing to answer any questions about the reports that had already begun surfacing. "Ah, well, you know, I’m really not in a position to talk about any of that stuff right now. That’s probably my biggest response. And I’m really not prepared to address any of the rumors about next year right now.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr., who owns the Nationwide team that Keselowski drives for, was a little more flexible with his answers, when asked about the reports that he would be losing his star driver. “I ain’t got nothing to really say about it. We will just have to see what happens. I can’t say whether it is true or not."
“I haven’t heard anything for sure. I don’t know any more than any of you guys do.” Earnhardt also went on to say, “I am happy for Brad. He has done a good job for us. We have a lot more racing left this year and some races to win in the JR Motorsports car. We will see what happens next year, whatever it is; it will be good for him.”
Earnhardt commented last week if Keselowski would sign with Dodge, if maybe there was something that they could work out, and Earnhardt was asked if that still holds true? “I don’t think that would be any different for anyone else in the garage for anybody to cross-promote and drive one make and then drive another. It is just common sense.”
As a team owner to have a driver who is as talented as Keselowski and then all of a sudden realizing that he wont be around next season has to be difficult. “When I first got Brad, this was for him to have an opportunity to go to a Cup team was our ultimate victory."
This decision couldn’t have come all that easily for Keselowski, and in typical Earnhardt form, he had nothing but praise for the young driver. “Either way, we will be good friends. He did a great job for us and we have the rest of this year. We want to win some more races, and we will see what happens next year. "No matter was he does in the future, he’s done an awesome job for us and we’ve had a great time so far.”
Now that the last of the sport’s big free agents is already taken, does this mean that all the other rumors that are floating around will be put to rest? Because when you think about it, which driver would best fit in with Stewart Haas Racing if they were to expand to a three-car team?
The best option would be for Stewart to wait until after the 2010 season, when Kevin Harvick will most likely be the most sought after driver once his contract expires with RCR. And what happens to JR Motorsports after Keselowski packs his belongings and heads over to Penske Racing? Could we possibly see another Earnhardt in the seat of the No. 88 after Keselowski departs?
Since Jeffrey is ready to come up to the next level, what better team to have him hone his skills at than one that is owned by his uncle? And of course we all know that Mark Martin’s contract expires after the 2010 season. Without Keselowski, who will fill Martin’s seat once he is gone, especially since HMS has no up and coming driver racing in the Nationwide series? Im Out
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