Team Penske confirmed on Tuesday, July 15, that Brad Keselowski will depart the organization at the end of the 2021 NASCAR season and head to Roush Fenway Racing. The move means that Keselowski will no longer serve as a leader, but it also opens up further opportunities for Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney.
“I feel like Brad and I led [Team Penske] together throughout the last few years,” Logano told reporters at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, per Jayski’s Dustin Albino. “I feel like Blaney has definitely raised his game over the years as you can see, so it’s gonna be up to us to kind of lead the organization around.”
Logano added that the whole Team Penske organization works together to “steer the ship” in the right direction. He listed the members of the executive staff, those that make major decisions on a daily and weekly basis. However, Logano acknowledged that he will have the opportunity to further expand his role as a leader after working side-by-side with Keselowski for nearly a decade.
Blaney Is No Longer the ‘Young Guy’ on the Team
With defending Xfinity Series champion Austin Cindric joining the fold in 2022, there will be a shakeup at Team Penske. No longer will the team consist of two Cup Series champions and a rising star. Now the lineup will feature one Cup Series champion, a veteran in Blaney, and a rookie in Cindric.
As the driver of the No. 12 Ford Mustang told Jayski, he won’t “get the s*** end of the stick” anymore. Instead, he will get to work with a new teammate in Cindric and another rookie in Harrison Burton through Team Penske’s technical alliance with Wood Brothers Racing.
Blaney explained to the outlet that he will be less of a role model and more of a leader in a teamwork environment. A critical part of the process will be feeding off of each other and continuing to learn from each other on a daily basis. Blaney, Keselowski, Logano, and Matt DiBenedetto did so in the past, helping each other contend for wins on a weekly basis. Now Blaney and Logano will work with a new group while pursuing the common goal of a championship.
The Process Will Start After Keselowski Finishes His Schedule
When Keselowski met with media members to announce that he will join Roush Fenway Racing, he took the time to make one very important point. The 2012 Cup Series champion explained that he remains dedicated to Team Penske and his teammates until the day that the 2021 season comes to an end.
“I have commitments and contracts with Team Penske that I fully intend to honor at the highest level possible,” Keselowski told media members. “So there will certainly be a time period here where we’re the Darrell Waltrip term ‘frienemies’, so we’re competing against each other with an expectation that we each have individually to beat each other, and then certainly we’ll come back together, but when that time is right.
“Certainly, it’s an interesting dynamic. I don’t think in any other sport you compete against a team you’re about to join, at least not that I know of, so it is a unique relationship, but we all have contracts and obligations we need to fulfill at this current time.”
With NASCAR off until Aug. 8 due to the Olympics, Keselowski will have time to prepare before competing with his “Frienemies.” The first opportunity will be the race at Watkins Glen International in New York. The veteran driver has 10 starts at the road course, which includes six top-10 finishes and three runner-ups.