News Analysis: Brad Keselowski Racing to shut down after 2017

What happened: Brad Keselowski Racing, which fields two full-time Trucks in the Camping World Truck Series, announced it will shut down following the conclusion of this season. In a statement, Keselowski said: “The Truck Series is truly special to me given my family’s ties to the history of the sport, and this decision comes with much contemplation. But, for a number of reasons, and as I plan for the long-term future, I’ve decided not to field a team in 2018.”

What it means: In 2014, Keselowski said he was losing $1 million per year on his Truck team and told NBC Sports in June that figure has been consistent in recent years. “It’s a money loser,” he said. “Big time.” With small purses in the Truck Series and with most teams finding it difficult to find sponsorship that will cover the cost of racing (Keselowski told NBC it was $4.5 million per Truck, per season), it seems nearly impossible to consistently make money as a team owner in that series. Although it’s nice for a Cup driver like Keselowski to give back to the sport by providing an opportunity for young drivers (the team helped Ryan Blaney’s career get started, for example), that can’t be expected to continue when too much money comes out of a driver’s own pocket.

News value (scale of 1-10): Eight. Even though the Truck Series has well-known financial issues and top teams like Red Horse Racing have shut down recently, it’s still jarring and shocking to see Keselowski’s team announce it will stop running.

Three questions: What is the long-term future of a series where only 13 drivers have run all 14 races so far this season? Although NASCAR is working to reduce costs, how can teams continue in this economic environment if it’s such a money drain? Keselowski said he one day wants to be a Cup Series team owner and is “seeking to develop an advanced engineering and manufacturing company that would be housed out of our 78,000 square foot facility in Statesville” — so what does that entail?

12 Replies to “News Analysis: Brad Keselowski Racing to shut down after 2017”

  1. When a team with full time sponsors and factory support can’t make it, it’s bad news…

  2. Tip of the iceberg…the other two major series will face the same issues… There could be major corrections coming unless costs are cutback and controlled quickly… When I see some of the race shops and what they contain the thought of how much it costs is mind blowing… throw in technology ,engineering ,logistics, driver payment and payroll I wonder how many corporations are willing to fund that…

  3. Might as well move the Trucks to all short local tracks once down to about 24 trucks in the fields.

    1. That was kind of my thought. Return to its roots and run smaller tracks. Might help increase interest in the younger drivers too.

  4. What a bad look for NASCAR, again.
    Imagine an NFL team shutting down and using stadium to create a business that was actually profitable? Wow

  5. Seems like NASCAR should downsize to two series(Cup & Xfinity). With attendance and TV viewship on the decline, maybe in the not-too-distant future….Cup might be the only NASCAR series left standing.

    As a NASCAR fan since 1977….I don’t see the sport ever returning to times past. The glory days of late 70s to early 2000s are gone forever. Gosh do I miss those days!
    This day and age no one wants has time to sit and watch a race for 2 or 3 hours( or even longer). They like racing, but can keep up with it on Twitter, etc. while doing other stuff. Or I can catch the high-lights on a motorsports website after the race is over.

    The internet and social media has effected motorsports tremendously.
    NASCAR needs to reevaluate their whole business model and downsize to survive.
    What happens when the TV networks don’t renew/reup?
    Their not going to want to broadcast a race with grandstands 1/3 full.
    Commercial sponsorship is not going to be there for a TV broadcast. They see viewship declining each race, each year.
    Look how hard it is for Cup, Xfinity and Truck series to find sponsorship each year.
    The landscape for motorsports has changed. Prolly forever.
    NASCAR needs to adapt or face a bleak future.

  6. Correct me if i’m wrong but what i understand from BK’s blogpost, is that he took a paycut to renew his contract with penske, which in turns reduced the money he could afford to put in his team to fill the gaps and keep running…

  7. The thought that it takes 4.5-5 million dollars for a truck team is asinine to me. The trucks should not be racing at Daytona or Talladega. Run the smaller tracks in areas NASCAR doesn’t go and expose the fans to modified, late model drivers trying to make their way through the ranks. The business models for Xfinity and the trucks has been broken for nearly a decade. If the push we see now for cost reduction and other improvements would’ve happened then, the state of the lower series’ would drastically be better. It’s a shame it’s taken this long for folks to see it.

  8. This isn’t going to be a popular opinion, but I’m going to say it anyway. Do people not see the problem with the current structure of the lower levels as it relates to driver development? I get it that we need younger drivers to replenish the sport, but the issue here is that NASCAR is trying to force drivers into the sport, rather than have them be discovered and signed the traditional way. Granted, it still happens, but what used to be the rule is now the exception. There are a limited number of seats in NASCAR, and it is currently like trying to fit 50 people into a 15 passenger van. Programs like NASCAR next and the various driver development programs don’t really make much sense to me at all. It just ends up wasting the careers of many talented drivers who can never get into a good ride, and forces veterans out of the seat before they are ready to retire. Constant driver turnover like we are seeing now, and probably will continue for the foreseeable future, is not how you maintain popularity or grow the sport. It’s how you confuse the fans and end up with a generation of casual watchers rather than die-hard fans. The current arms race to stockpile young drivers is only helping to accelerate the decline of the sport, and is a main cause of the rising cost of racing. We used to rarely see cup teams field entries in the Xfinity or truck series, and now Xfinity is dominated by cup teams. To be successful in either series today, you either need to be a cup team, be supported by a cup team, or have a driver under a “development” contract with a cup team. The ones that don’t have any of these three things usually struggle to compete. I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that the current structure is not sustainable. Ban cup teams from the lower series, if that’s what it takes. It may finally force owners to curb their spending, and slow for cheaper cars and less technology. Yes, I actually said less technology. My final point is that we need less technology, not more of it. If NASCAR fans wanted some hi-tech spaceships, they could just go watch F1 (which is pretty bad right now by the way). Sprint car racing is getting really big right now, and those are some of the most simple machines out there. Americans like simplicity, and with every new “innovation”, NASCAR creates more and more of a disconnect between themselves and their inherent demographic of fans.

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