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Keselowski, Penske end foundational relationship

Photo by Dominic Aragon/TRE

Team Penske announced Thursday that Austin Cindric will pilot the No. 2 Ford in 2022, replacing Brad Keselowski.

Cindric will replace Keselowski who has been with Team Penske since 2010, marking one of the biggest non-retirement moves in recent memory for the sport.

Keselowski, the 2012 NASCAR Cup Series champion, was heavily rumored to be taking on an ownership stake with Roush-Fenway Racing.

Photo by Cheri Eaton/TRE

Roger Penske all but confirmed the rumors during Thursday’s press conference when he discussed his talks with Keselowski about an ownership stake in the team.

“The way we’re structured at Penske Corp. and the subsidiaries that we have, it wouldn’t work out and he understood that.  I think we came to the end of our contract at the end of last year,” Penske stated. ” We sat down and he and John Caponigro and had good discussions and basically the final meeting that we had he said that he had an opportunity that would give him ownership, and I said at that point that we wouldn’t have that available.  We’d go on.”

“Brad has done a hell of a job for us, and I think he’ll bring a lot of value to Roush Yates in the future.”

Keselowski was offered a two-year option last season when he signed a one-year deal with Team Penske. However, Keselowski’s interest in the ownership stake led to a one-year deal.

Despite Keselowski and Penske parting ways after 12 seasons, Penske emphasized that, “this was not a disagreement, this was a business decision that was made on both sides fairly and squarely, and, quite honestly, Brad will be a friend of the family and a friend of the team forever.” Penske also stated that Brad “brought some tremendous credibility”.

Keselowski’s replacement, Austin Cindric, is only the fourth driver to pilot Team Penske’s flagship No. 2 car. The entry first ran in 1991 with Rusty Wallace. Starting in 2006, Kurt Busch took over for Wallace and Brad Keselowski took over for Busch in 2011.

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 24: Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24, 2020 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

“It means a great deal and obviously running the 2 car for Roger and Team Penske certainly comes with a great responsibility and obviously great heritage,” Cindric stated.  “I’ve obviously come a long way and I’m sure everyone in this room has seen a lot of that and it’s been a lot of fun, and to be able to tackle this head-on and obviously have the whole season to prepare for the opportunity to go Cup racing.”

Austin Cindric won the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship for Team Penske and has earned 12 wins, 51 Top 5s, 77 Top 5s and seven poles in 118 races with the team. Cindric has made six starts in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2021.

CHARLOTTE, NC – SEPTEMBER 20: Austin Cindric at the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs Media Day on September 20, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Bob Leverone/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Brad Keselowski has earned 34 wins, 133 Top 5s and 216 Top 10s in 420 NASCAR Cup Series starts for Team Penske, dating back to November 2009.

Keselowski also earned the 2012 NASCAR Cup Series and 2010 NASCAR Xfinity Series championships for the team.

SOURCES:
Ford Performance
NASCAR
Racing-Reference.Info

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