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Brad Keselowski Could Be Forced to Form an Alliance With Old Friends as Stakes Get Higher Than Ever

Published 09/27/2023, 4:19 PM EDT

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USA Today via Reuters

The NASCAR Cup Series’ 2023 iteration hasn’t been the best for the all-American manufacturer, Ford. The season so far has been a hit or miss so far for Ford. Two of its top teams, fielding seven cars, have underperformed throughout this season amidst the occasional respite. Despite being 2 prominent resourceful teams, Stewart-Haas Racing & Team Penske are still treading unknown waters.

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Other than Roger Penske’s drivers, Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano, none have made a mark and that includes all four of SHR’s Fords. But all is not lost, while its top teams failed to deliver to the hype, RFK Racing has shown exceptional pace, going leaps and bounds over the larger teams in terms of consistency and results. Leading the charge is veteran Brad Keselowski along with this season’s revelation, Chris Buescher. However as the action gets to the 2nd round of the playoffs, the number of Fords advancing is dwindling and this could shake up an unlikely alliance, one that could save them all from total humiliation.

Brad Keselowski might have to resort to an unlikely alliance after 3 Fords made their exits in Bristol


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For one, Fords haven’t been the most successful this year. Other than a few occasional blitzes from Buescher and his #17 Mustang, no other Fords have done anything significant. While fans have a sigh of relief seeing the #17 car win back-to-back in Richmond & Michigan, Buescher’s boss is yet to claim a win this season.

Though the 2012 Cup Series champion, who bought major stakes in the team, is 7th in the rankings with 3045 points, he is one bad race from elimination. And so is Team Penske‘s only remaining playoff hope, Ryan Blaney, sitting in the 11th spot. Take the last eliminator, for instance. Three Fords were eliminated including the reigning champion Joey Logano.


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So according to racing pundits, Keselowski, a former Team Penske driver himself, might have to make a truce with his former teammate, Ryan Blaney. The #12 Ford driver has shown exceptional pace in Talladega to make it past the 2.66-mile superspeedway and was the runner-up in the GEICO 500 earlier this year. The recent GoPRNLive pre-race analysis covered just that. Prominent NASCAR journalist Lee Spencer joined the team to give her take, briefing about an unlikely alliance that could give the veteran the push he needs.

“Brad Keselowski was the last Team Penske driver to win at Talladega but (Ryan)Blaney has 2 wins he has finished 2nd in the last 2 races he certainly knows how to get around the 2.66-mile speedway, I think it is all hands-on deck, not just for Blaney,” she said. Adding to her point she further elaborated on her take. 

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Mentioning how the season has transpired for the Fords, she said, “But perhaps for Ford because this is not been a typical Team Penske year by any stretch of the matter but you want as many drivers as many blue ovals as you can get into the round of 8 so, I think it’s not just all hands on deck for Team Penske but you know if you’re having that Ford conversation which all the manufacturers seems to have these days prior to Sunday I think that Blaney’s name has to be at the top of the list.” 

Despite Blaney’s record at Talladega, his recent runs this season have been anything but satisfactory. So much so that in Texas, as he was on the verge of completing a major career milestone, he crashed—once again.

Ryan Blaney’s career milestone gets eclipsed by the driver’s wreck in Texas


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Heading into the 1.4-mile intermediate track in Texas, Ryan Blaney had high hopes to make a major turnaround. Aside from his Coca-Cola 600 triumph that got him the playoff spot, the #12 driver has just 4 top 5 finishes, making his situation dire. While the driver did just enough to sneak into the playoffs, he will need a win to advance further and keep his championship hopes alive.

The Texas race meant the 300th career start for the driver but he just couldn’t finish the race as a late wreck in Stage 3 did him dirty. Moreover, he seemed frantic, going all aggressive which eventually got him a pit lane speeding penalty. However, his situation worsened in the following laps when he was caught in a bloody wreck on the front stretch initiated by Tyler Reddick.

via Imago

The multi-car crash got Blaney out of the race, ending his day 28th. With the points deficit creeping upon the driver, Roger Penske’s sole playoff hope certainly needs to ace his favorite superspeedway to advance further.


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Written by:

Kishore R


One take at a time

Kishore is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. With a degree in engineering, Kishore's love for automobiles, particularly the roaring naturally-aspirated V8s, naturally led him to NASCAR. Kishore's writing is characterized by his intense passion for the sport, as well as his ability to conduct in-depth research and analysis.
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Edited by:

Nischal Kandpal