Penske’s No. 1 goal now: Hold on to Keselowski
And now it’s official: He’ll run full-time schedules in both Nationwide and Cup in 2010 for Roger Penske, not Rick Hendrick. While Hendrick Motorsports was the first choice, having brought Brad up through the ranks and into stardom, there were too many guests at the inn and he became the odd man out.
That’s bad news for Hendrick, and great news for Penske Racing.
Now the trick for Penske is to do something that might be hard: Keep Keselowski for a long time. It appears this is a short-term deal with Penske, and you know Rick Hendrick will be keeping on eye on Brad from a distance, hoping to summon him back as soon as someone in his stable (Martin? Gordon?) decides to retire.
So what does Penske have to do to keep Keselowski? That’s easy – build him cars that can win races. While David Stremme isn’t exactly lighting up the track with his performances, that #12 car has struggled quite a bit this year and it can’t all be his fault. The team’s star is Kurt Busch, who has been in the top-5 in points all year and contended regularly to win races. If Penske wants to keep Brad as a long-term Penske employee, he needs to give Brad cars that are equally good.
If Brad can rack up a good number of top-5 and top-10 finishes in 2010 and maybe even win a race or two, it will be hard for him to want to go back to Hendrick. In essence, the only way Penske can stop Keselowski from eventually going back to the team that is widely considered the best in NASCAR is to build him cars that can compete with the Hendrick cars.
Brad wants to win, and he has the talent to do so – something he has proven for the past few years in the Nationwide Series. Given the right equipment, he might be able to grow comfortable in his new surroundings and not hope to return to the team that first spawned his success.
For the 18th time, Harvick isn’t going anywhere
Just in case you haven’t heard him, though I don’t think that’s possible, Richard Childress once again says Kevin Harvick will be back in the #29 car next season. If he’s this insistent, perhaps it’s true (there’s nowhere left to go anyway). But I can tell you right now it’s going to be a not-so-“Happy” Harvick in that car next year if the results continue on the downward slope the team took this year. There have been times this year where Harvick just looked defeated, as if he wanted to give up. That, my friends, is not a recipe for winning.
Look for major shakeups among RCR personnel, including the likely death of one of its four teams, prior to the beginning of the 2010 season as they try to get the ship righted and back to their winning, Chase-making ways of the past.