Penske announced today that crew chief for the #2-car Jeremy Bullins would miss his second race in a row due to “precautionary team protocols.” This hasn’t been elaborated on, but it’s troubling for Brad Keselowski fans as his team struggled mightily at Darlington more than likely due to Bullins’ absence. This is the latest in some odd team issues that Keselowski has had churning,
Keselowski’s future has been going around the rumor mill for over a year now with many talks about what his plans are after 2021. A lot of the whispers would have you believe that Keselowski is more than likely to resign with Penske, but it’s not a lock by any means. There have been some questionable calls and results that might cause Kes to rethink his future.
Really since 2018 when Miller Lite has been easing their way out of NASCAR slowly to now where they are non-existent. This was around the time that Keselowski’s tenure at Penske was in question for me, because we all know that if you don’t have sponsorship then you don’t have a lot of legs to stand on. While Discount Tire is considered Keselowski’s main sponsor, they haven’t even sponsored half his races this season.
So far, he’s been living off of Penske affiliate sponsors with none of his own to really hold him up like teammates Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney. Outside of the fact that Keselowski is still winning races and contending for championships there is no monetary benefit to having him in the car.
Roger Penske is possibly the most wealthy owner in the sport, but he’s a smart businessman and if he can make just as much money by putting Austin Cindric or Matt DiBenedetto in the car, he will. As far as finding a better driver? It’s not going to happen, Brad is one of the best, but sometimes that doesn’t always win out in this sport.
Beyond sponsorship woes, Kes has been getting the raw end of the deal in terms of his team. When Penske announced a crew chief switch up, Keselowski was left with the least proven of the three in Jeremy Bullins.
Now, he had arguably his best season since his championship year in 2020, so obviously Bullins is not a hindrance. However, the fact that Pesnke elected to give the younger Logano and Blaney the big name crew chiefs was a pretty telling sign of where Roger Penske put Kes on the totem pole. Team Penske has been moving more towards Joey Logano becoming the face of the team with Ryan Blaney being just as marketable in his own right.
Austin Cindric is coming to Cup next season and some rumors are circulating that the Wood Bros. might want to keep Matt DiBenedetto in their car. If that is the case, then we could see Cindric jump straight to Penske to replace Keselowski. Possibly Blaney or Logano would jump over to the #2 since it is the flagship car.
Where would Keselowski go? I think the best spot for him is to replace Aric Almirola in the #10 and SHR has to pray that Smithfield likes Brad enough to stick around. SHR has looked like a lesser team in 2021, but there has been speculation that they are playing for 2022 and the next-gen car. If that’s the case, we could see them jump back to form next season which would be enticing to Keselowski to leave Penske.
This is speculation, but if Keselowski is not feeling appreciated at Penske and not bringing in the appropriate sponsorship, then perhaps both sides can come to terms with the fact that it’s time to call it quits. Personally, if I was Keselowski and I was offered a new contract, I would stick with Penske as long as I felt I was being treated fairly.
While Stewart-Haas could provide a great ride to finish off the twilight years of his career, they are not an upgrade over his current ride. Brad Keselowski made the #2 famous again after Rusty Wallace, and I’d hate to not see him finish up his career in that ride.
Thank you to my Patreon members!: