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Analysis

RFK Racing on path back to "a perennial championship contender"

RFK Racing is sending both its drivers to the NASCAR Cup playoffs, but team co-owner Brad Keselowski hopes that’s just the beginning.

Chris Buescher, RFK Racing, Fifth Third Bank Ford Mustang

Chris Buescher picked up his third win of the season Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway and both he and Keselowski will compete in the 16-driver playoffs, Buescher now as the No. 4 seed.

That’s a giant turnaround from last season, when both teams failed to make the playoff field, although Buescher did secure a late-season win.

Since Keselowski joined the organization as a driver and co-owner in 2022, Buescher has all four of the organization’s victories. The former Roush Fenway Racing had a long history of success in NASCAR but had not won in the Cup Series since 2017.

Keselowski’s arrival coincided with the debut of the Next Gen car in the Cup series competition and a transformation to the competition side of the racing team.

Improved results have come gradually, but they have certainly picked up in frequency the longer the 2023 season has gone on.

Keselowski relishes the opportunity he and Buescher have this season but also remains focused on the “bigger picture.”

Brad Keselowski, RFK Racing, BuildSubmarines.com Ford Mustang, Chris Buescher, RFK Racing, Fastenal Ford Mustang

Brad Keselowski, RFK Racing, BuildSubmarines.com Ford Mustang, Chris Buescher, RFK Racing, Fastenal Ford Mustang

Photo by: Matthew T. Thacker / NKP / Motorsport Images

“We’re building something that’s going to be special for a long time,” Keselowski said. “That’s a big goal of mine. I’m proud of everybody in the team, certainly Chris for his efforts.

“The bigger picture is to have a sustainable race team that can win championships for years to come, be a perennial championship contender.

“I think you look at the wins that RFK has had this year, they’re not fluke wins, they’re earned wins. But (this week), all this kind of washes away and we’re focused on the 10 weeks to come.”

Victory Lane eludes Keselowski

While Keselowski has yet to score a win this season, he has been in position to do so several times.

The ability to have both cars up front on a regular basis and in contention for wins is another big step for the organization. Saturday night was the first race since 2014 that RFK had drivers finish first and second in a race.

“A few weeks ago, we were sitting down, kind of going over the goal and visions, what we value. One of the things we brought up was 1-2 finishes,” Keselowski said. “It’s been a long time since this company has had 1-2 finishes.

“Of course, I wanted to be the one on the front of that. Proud nonetheless of Chris and his efforts and both teams, where they’ve grown and come together. Doing all the right things to grow us and to just take us to that next level.”

The start of the 10-race playoff schedule also bodes well for RFK.

Both drivers finished in the top-10 at the spring race at Darlington and Buescher won last season’s race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.

“Tremendous to get up front and to be able to control races, just execute at a very high level while also having the pace and just earn it,” Keselowski said. “We’re not winning races that we don’t deserve to win.

“There’s a lot of energy for us, a lot of great racing to look forward to.”

Chris Buescher, RFK Racing, Castrol Edge Ford Mustang celebrates his victory

Chris Buescher, RFK Racing, Castrol Edge Ford Mustang celebrates his victory

Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / Motorsport Images

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