The two-car RFK Racing team has had an incredible start to the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season, and over the last two races, the organization has continued to showcase its strength.
This past weekend, Brad Keselowski carried the banner for the team with an eighth-place finish. Keselowski, who finished fourth in Stage 1 of Monday's Wurth 400 at Dover Motor Speedway, had to rally after a pit road penalty was issued for an uncontrolled tire during a pit stop between Stages 1 and 2.
Despite being sent to the rear of the field, Keselowski kept his wits about him, and when the checkered flag flew on the day, he had secured another solid run with an eighth-place finish. For the 2012 NASCAR Cup Series champion, there was a lot to be proud of following Monday's race.
“We had a good recovery," Keselowski said of his race. "Had top-five in the first stage, had a pit road issue, and we recovered from that. Solid top-10 day – drove back through. We’re not far off here. Just looking for a little more, and I felt like we were pretty close. Excited about that, proud of our day – especially Chris [Buescher] running well. Just a strong showing.”
Just behind Keselowski was Buescher in ninth, and had it not been for a late-race restart, Buescher thinks he could have finished even better.
"Ended up ninth with the late restart, and had a lap-down car racing us pretty hard," Buescher explained. "Jacked us up there, but at the end of the day, it was solid. Everyone did a good job on pit road, kept track position, worked hard on track, and it’s a solid one. Just wanted to be a little more free on that last race restart to see if we could drive forward a little bit more, but it was good to stay up there all day and in contention.”
As both drivers finished inside the top five the week before at Talladega Superspeedway, the solid performance at Dover equaled the second-consecutive top-10 finish for both RFK Racing teams. Prior to Monday at Dover, RFK Racing had not swept top-10 finishes in back-to-back races with its cars since the 2014 NASCAR Cup Series season (310 races ago).
Keselowski, who joined RFK Racing as a driver and co-owner in 2022, says the solid stretch for the RFK Racing team is a testament to the never-say-quit attitude that the team has.
“It was just a big day for us. We’re just grinding. The whole company is just grinding and committed to taking us to the next level to get both these cars in the playoffs,” Keselowski stated.
The commitment by the team to increase the performance of both cars to a level that they can contend for Playoff berths is certainly working.
Bolstered by a total of nine top-10 finishes between Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher through the opening 11 races of the 2023 campaign, both the No. 6 and No. 17 RFK Racing drivers and teams sit firmly inside the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff cutline heading into the 12th race of the season at Kansas Speedway.
Keselowski finds himself ninth in the driver standings, 72 points above the cutline, while Buescher is in 12th, 46 markers to the good. When you compare where both RFK Racing drivers were in the standings at this point last season, you notice a stark difference in just a year's time.
Buescher sat 19th in the championship standings after the 11th race of the 2022 season, and was 19 points behind the Playoff cutline, and Keselowsi, who had suffered a points penalty due to modifications of single-source supplied parts, sat 30th, 99 points outside the Playoff cutline.
If the two drivers and teams can keep the momentum going, 2023 could be the start of RFK Racing reasserting itself as a powerhouse organization within the NASCAR Cup Series.
But for now, they remain a refreshing story that continues to climb the Playoff standings with strong performances week-in and week-out.
Photo Credit: Matthew T. Thacker, NKP, Courtesy of Ford Performance
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