12. Brad Keselowski

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·4 min read
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  • Brad Keselowski
    Brad Keselowski
    American stock car racing driver
  • Ryan Newman
    Ryan Newman
    American racecar driver
  • Matt Kenseth
    Matt Kenseth
    American racing driver

When a driver changes teams, handicappers must consider what is most important before making predictions.

The No. 6 team has languished for quite some while, struggling to find a driver that could match the organization's potential. They finished 28th in the points. This team has been in disarray ever since Trevor Bayne took the wheel in 2015. That driver never quite got Jack Roush’s favorite car back up to speed - and in 2018, Roush made the decision to employ a former driver, Matt Kenseth, to assess the needs of the car.

Kenseth was not able to fix the problems, so in 2019 Ryan Newman climbed into the cockpit with modest success. He was injured in the 2020 Daytona 500, but only missed three races because of the COVID-19 break; Ross Chastain drove in those events. Newman was also unable to steady the course.

Now, it's Brad Keselowski's turn. Arguably, he is at a different point of his career than either Kenseth or Newman when they were tasked with the No. 6. He certainly has more skill than Bayne did when he assumed the role after four seasons, (plus one race), running part time. Is that enough to make a difference?

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The answer comes in how one wants to define success is 2022.

It is highly unlikely that Keselowski will replicate his 2021 season in which he finished sixth in the points' standings with Team Penske. Even that was a drop off from his previous performance. Keselowski scored one win – in a carburetor-restricted superspeedway lottery – and earned 10 top-fives and 17 top-10s. All of those were his worst performances since 2015.

Keselowski landed 10th on the season ending Power Rankings, but there was a significant gap to the top four drivers. That will happen in a season when drivers like Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, and Chase Elliott dominate. But it also happens when a driver starts to look ahead. Minor distractions in NASCAR have a major impact.

If it seems that Keselowski is not getting the respect he deserves by being ranked outside the top 10, but based on the raw numbers of the No. 6 team in recent years, they should rightly be handicapped on the cusp of 16th. Keselowski is capable of winning in this car, however, although it may come in one of the three races at Daytona International Speedway or Talladega Superspeedway and that is why we have him this high.

The No. 6 team will progressively improve throughout the season. If Keselowski makes the Round of 16 in playoff contention, they should be ready to compete for top-10s on a weekly basis and those points will be important in moving him up the chart. The biggest unknown in 2022 is how the sportsbook traders and salary cap managers are going to value him.

One can expect the traders to be cautious, which means there won't be very many long lines in the first dozen or so races. Plus odds for a top-10 are going to be almost impossible to find in that period, but if he struggles early, the tide may shift. Put a note in your tickle file to pay closer attention to Keselowski around Dover International Speedway in Week 11 to see how he is being judge. That could be the sweet spot for gamblers looking to him as a dark horse.

Fantasy gaming cap managers can afford to take a few more risks and the early fluctuations are likely to be significant. Kez should be considered each week because our kneejerk response is that he should race better than he qualifies, which will add place-differential points in DraftKings. Last year, Keselowski finished better than he started in 21 of 36 races.

Three Best Tracks *
New Hampshire (10.1 in 21 attempts)
Pocono (10.6 in 24)
Las Vegas (10.6 in 17)

Three Worst Tracks *
Daytona (24.0 in 26)
Charlotte road (18.5 in 4)
Bristol (16.8 in 23)

2021 Stats
Victories: Talladega 1
Top-fives: 10 (.278)
Top-10s: 17 (.472)
Top-15s: 24 (.667)
Top-20s: 29 (.806)

2021 Finishes at or above rank = 19 (528%)

Other Posts Featuring Brad Keselowski
2021 Season End: 1-10
Brad Keselowski joins Roush Fenway in 2022
Shakeup at Team Penske, Wood Brothers

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