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LIFE ON AND OFF THE TRACK

OUR NEWEST DRIVER

By | 2017-04-28T03:20:25+00:00 10.15.2015|15 Comments

I can watch video of the 2011 Daytona Gatorade Duel forever.

My brother, Brian, and I raced together that day, one of the few times we’ve ever raced together. Brian was in a low budget, underfunded car — the No. 92 — and I was running in the Deuce. Before the race started, we talked briefly. I told him I didn’t expect to be running in the same area of the race that he was, so I didn’t think I’d have an opportunity to help him. But if I did have a chance to help him, I would.

“Here’s exactly what I’m going to do,” I said. “I’m going to push you. I’m going to push you to the front, and if I do that, you need to run this lane and just stay in it, and we’ll be fine.”

In the closing stages of the race, I got spun out, and sure enough, for those final laps, I was actually behind Brian. I started pushing him. He followed exactly what we’d talked about, and the next thing he knew, he had qualified for the Daytona 500.

This week, Brian and I are going to be driving together again. He’s going to take the wheel of the No. 29 on my truck team at Talladega Motor Speedway.

A SCARY CRASH

As happy as I am to be reunited on the track with my brother, the circumstances that led to him driving for me could have been better.

Austin Theriault, a great young talent and the regular driver of the No. 29, was injured two weeks ago at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It was an unfortunate incident that saw Austin get hit by his teammate, Tyler Reddick, in the right rear quarter panel as he came off a corner. Austin crashed into the track wall head-on in a spot where there wasn’t a SAFER barrier. The impact was dramatic, and he took a hell of hit. The front of the truck collapsed, driving the steering wheel into Austin’s face and breaking his helmet, and he also took a shot to the lower back. A helicopter had to airlift Austin to a hospital for examination.

We’re all extremely happy that he wasn’t hurt much worse, and I’m looking forward to seeing Austin back behind the wheel in a few weeks once he’s recovered. He’s a super professional driver and an all-around nice kid.

When I was looking for a replacement driver for Austin, I knew that most of the current Cup drivers wouldn’t be interested in taking the wheel at Talladega. For one thing, Talladega is a dangerous track, and while it’s always a fun race, there’s not a lot to be gained in the way of knowledge from driving there. That narrowed the pool down to drivers from XFINITY, Truck and ARCA, and when I considered the drivers that interested me, none of them was really more qualified than Brian was. In addition, I have a great partner with Cooper Standard, who has given me free reign to pick the drivers I feel are qualified and not get stuck with someone I don’t want.

That’s a great privilege to have.

WHY NOW

One of the questions I’m asked the most on social media is why Brian and I don’t really work together much.

The answer, as you might imagine, is a complicated one.

Brian and I are different people. We’re opposite in every way. Just start with our builds: I’m a skinny tall guy, Brian’s kind of a stockier guy. We have different personalities. Brian is probably more extroverted than I am with strangers, and probably less apt for political correctness than even I am, which is really saying something. Monte Dutton, an older NASCAR writer, said that modern-day NASCAR drivers need to go to charm school. Brian probably wouldn’t pass charm school. He’s more of a throwback to what a NASCAR driver would have been 20 years ago.

As a driver, Brian had some opportunities with ARCA car owners and lower level XFINITY owners earlier on, and for a bunch of different reasons, they just didn’t work out. He didn’t have the success he wanted to have. He still races from time to time at various levels — Late Model, ARCA, XFINITY and Cup. He’s worked as an instructor at one of Richard Petty’s driving schools, and more recently, has been a crew chief for the ARCA series. He’s a very good crew chief. One guy he’s been helping out this year, a young rookie driver, has been running up front and leading laps. He hasn’t won a race but he’s come really close.

Brian_Keselowski2

As far as my relationship with Brian goes, it’s kind of like I joked in one of my previous blogs: he’s the first person to defend me, and then probably the first person to offend me, too. He’s my senior by two and a half years, and we’ve had a contentious relationship at times. In his eyes, I’ll always be his little brother no matter what I do. Our paths haven’t necessarily crossed in a way where would have been able to do something like this before now. The BKR Truck Team is really a program for developing younger drivers, and Brian just turned 34 last month. And quite honestly, I’m not sure either of us was mature enough to deal with each other in a productive way earlier in our careers.

But we’re trying now, and I’m glad we are. We’re in a positive place where we can help each other out. He wants to do it, and I want to do it. I’m excited by the idea of having him race for us. He gets to drive the truck that finished fourth at Daytona in the spring. I’m looking for him to have a safe day, first and foremost, and beyond that, to run up front, and make the most of the opportunity. He’s got a good team that could win the race, and he knows that, too.

BUILDING SOMETHING

I’m excited to do something with my brother. There’s something about it that’s noble to me. My family started off working together. My dad and uncle built their race teams together. My brother and I have never really had that kind of relationship. It’s nice to be able to do something with him.

The closest thing I’ve ever had like that with Brian actually came after that Daytona Gatorade Duel race in 2011. After we crossed the finish line and he had qualified for the Daytona 500, I climbed out of my car and walked over to his. I wanted to tell him what a good job he had done.

When I got to his car, I found him inside, crying and emotional. At the time, I didn’t know what to say, so I just kind of let him be.

We never really talked about it afterward, but I’m guessing he was pretty thankful for what we’d done together, and how the race had turned out. I know I was, too.

15 Comments

  1. Matt October 15, 2015 at 8:40 pm - Reply

    Reminds me of the relationship I share with my brother. I’m very happy for Brian, and Brad! The best to you both!

  2. TL October 15, 2015 at 9:21 pm - Reply

    You’re an awesome guy, Brad! It’s a shame that Austin got a minor injury which will keep him from racing, but I am glad to see that Brian is getting a chance to drive the BKR #29 Ford at Talladega. I’ll be watching and cheering him on. I’m a huge fan of yours and always cheer on the BKR trucks, the #22 Xfinity car (since you developed the team, even though there are several of you that get to drive it now) and I also always watch the Cup races to cheer you on. Last year, you were dominant during the regular season (4 wins, most wins of any driver) and unfortunately it looked like you lost some speed as the season went on. This year, your cars started the year off slow, but now you seem to be fast almost every single week. In my eyes, you had a great chance to win the All-Star race, Kentucky, Watkins Glen, Pocono (fuel mileage), Darlington and most recently New Hampshire. But unfortunately you didn’t catch any breaks. You should have definitely won New Hampshire though, but you and I both know that NASCAR manipulated the race by black flagging you. NASCAR has their favorites, and unfortunately they always penalize you when they get the chance. Anyway, you have had a great season this year and I am rooting for you so hard to win the championship. I’m still very proud of the 2012 Championship, but winning a second championship would be amazing! GO BRAD!!!! #GoingFor2

  3. Momma AT October 15, 2015 at 9:50 pm - Reply

    Very cool story Brad. We’ll be cheering your brother Brian on for sure! And as I’ve mentioned in the past, we love reading your blogs.

  4. Bill Venturini sr. October 15, 2015 at 10:11 pm - Reply

    I’ve known your family since 1978 when I ran my first USAC race @ Milwaukee and have been proud of what you have accomplished in your career. But I gained a total new respect for what you are doing for Brian and that you guys are working on a better relationship.
    I went through the same rocky relationship with my older brother. But as the years past, we mended it and I was able to help him for the last few years before he passes away.
    Way To Go Brad!!

  5. Bob Jurgens October 15, 2015 at 10:59 pm - Reply

    Brad, I am ecstatic that this opportunity is available for Brian.

    As you know I’ve had an opportunity to work and partner with Brian over the last few years and also to call him my friend.

    I know of nobody who is more knowledgeable about race cars or works harder than Brian. I love being at the shop with Brian, especially when your Dad and Incle Ron are there.

    Your blog post is very enlightening and I simply couldn’t be happier for both of you.

    Good luck this weekend in Kansas and see you in ‘Dega.

  6. Scott Melching October 15, 2015 at 11:46 pm - Reply

    Very cool words about Brian; he more than deserves a shot at this. BKR is for up and coming drivers, and (as you said) Brian is 34….Sounds like a man with enough knowledge and experience to be a vital part of BKR, coaching those young drivers. Jen should be part of the package as well…. $.02

  7. Aaron Denson October 16, 2015 at 6:33 am - Reply

    That’s really awesome Brad. I hope Austin recovers soon and I wish Brian nothing but success in that 29 car! #2for2

  8. Junior Pruitt October 16, 2015 at 10:25 am - Reply

    Such great news about my favorite people. Go Keselowski

  9. Ed Simko October 16, 2015 at 2:56 pm - Reply

    Great job Brad good to see you and Brian working together, I hope he has a good day!

  10. jennifer October 16, 2015 at 3:57 pm - Reply

    Nice to see you two together!

  11. Rob October 16, 2015 at 11:15 pm - Reply

    I wish I had a younger brother like you. Supporting family is the best thing anyone can do. I hope that you guy’s do great. All the best. Rob

  12. Steven October 17, 2015 at 6:58 am - Reply

    Go Brian!

  13. Scott Avery October 17, 2015 at 2:04 pm - Reply

    Hoping Austin gets the nod to run the WHOLE season next year in the 29. He is extremely talented and very mature for his young age.

  14. Susan Dahl October 21, 2015 at 11:50 pm - Reply

    GOOD LUCK TO THE TWO OF YOU. STAY SAFE AND HOPE YOU BOTH WIN!

  15. fred October 26, 2015 at 2:26 pm - Reply

    Brad you’re a Detroit original.Best of luck going forward with your brother at your side.

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