AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Brad Keselowski laughed when he said he was relieved Roger Penske didn’t give him the “Fresh Prince” treatment and threw him out of the building on his final day with the race team.
Leaving his own choice, Kiselowski liked where he landed.
2012 NASCAR champion Roush with Team Penske is set to work in his new job as a driver (with an ownership stake) at Fenway Racing. Kiselowski wanted a fresh start—and ordered a fresh coat of paint—before his Tuesday visit to the RFR campus in North Carolina.
“I want to come in clean floors, clean walls,” he said. “So they set aside that place last month. I’m going to move into a brand new floor and brand new walls. If that’s not leaving his DNA on something, I don’t know what it is. ”
First, Kiselowski took a final ride on Sunday at Phoenix Raceway for the team he essentially spent his entire 12-year career with. Kiselowski and Penske have talked about strong finishing and perhaps adding one final checkered flag to the collection. Keselowski posted a photo of his No. 2 Ford in a garage stall on Saturday night, with the caption, “Closing up shop for the night. Looking forward to taking both for a final spin tomorrow.”
He posted a tribute video earlier in the week with clips of his greatest moments at Penske.
Kiselowski won 34 times with Penske and marked himself as the best drivers of the Captain’s Cup. Kiselowski moves to a Rausch Fenway Racing team – soon to receive a new name – that has failed to last for years as a serious contender. Kurt Busch gave Roush his only cup title in 2004. As with Kiselowski, he expected his No. 6 Ford team to participate in the Daytona 500 immediately.
“We have to get results next year,” Keselowski said.
A key point in Kiselowski’s decision was his desire to have an ownership stake in a Cup team. Kiselowski fielded his eponymous team in the NASCAR Truck Series for a decade, and his desire to have a piece of a team in the Elite Cup Series never took off.
“It’s not good to take out and leave, right? No one was holding my arms,” Keselowski said.
He’s not the only driver to move on after the finale, and not all of his own choice.
Former Daytona 500 champ Ryan Newman has nothing on the table after wrapping up at Roush Fenway Racing. Matt DiBenedetto is out at Wood Brothers Racing. Ryan Preuss, Anthony Alfredo and current Daytona 500 champion Michael McDowell have yet to announce 2022 plans.
“Some of them didn’t know where they were going, all of a sudden, this summer,” Bush said.
Busch is done with Chip Ganassi Racing and signed with 23X1 Racing – also known as Michael Jordan’s race team – and will drive the No. 45 Toyota.
Ganassi sold its NASCAR operations to Trackhouse Racing. It’s all Justin Marks and Pitbull once the race is over.
The 2017 Daytona 500 champions, Ganassi and Bush had a final lunch together before going their separate ways. Ganassi gave Bush a framed photo of a blueprint the driver had designed for the possible cooling system in the car from their first meeting. Bush said Ganassi wrote a note that said, “Thank you, Kurt, for always being the leader that you have been for Chip Ganassi Racing.”
“It was a good moment with Chip,” Bush said. “It’s heavy.”
While Kiselowski is leaving the only team he is known for, the 43-year-old Bush is moving on to his seventh team in a 2000 Cup career.
“If we can run in the top 10 and come out strong and finish 10th in points, that would mean the world to me,” Bush said.
Bush, like Newman, pursued a career as a survivor. Newman also began his Cup career in 2000, winning eight races in 2003, bouncing around teams and surviving a fiery, death-defying crash at the 2020 Daytona 500.
Newman feels uneasy about his uncertain professional career, but the driver has been on the chopping block since 2017 after failing to win a race. Newman said he doesn’t really know whether his final Cup race will take place on Sunday.
His career could have started and ended on the same track. Newman finished 41st in Phoenix driving for Penske on his November 5, 2000 debut.
“My phone didn’t ring,” Newman said. “The fact is, there really isn’t any quality ride out there.”
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