If Brad Keselowski Isn’t Being Vengeful, Then He’s at Least Being Ironic
We thought the 2023 Superstar Racing Experience calendar would pique the interest of current NASCAR drivers. But Brad Keselowski remained stung and took the plunge by revealing he would be racing in all six races of SRX’s third season.
It’s hard to say what a case of racing excitement this is and what a blow it is to NASCAR. However, completing Sunday trips in cars that should be almost identical to Thursday trips in identical cars is certainly worthwhile.
Tony Stewart may have found a kindred spirit.
The SRX schedule was designed to entice NASCAR drivers to compete
Co-founder Tony Stewart’s intent was evident from the moment the SRX released its six-race schedule for 2023, the series’ third season. The bread and butter of the Superstar Racing Experience are tracks in the Northeastern and Midwestern states, and organizers have been careful to synchronize their schedule, televised by ESPN, with which NASCAR will compete.
Five races are easy jumps for Cup Series drivers like Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick who want a taste of SRX on Thursday night, then qualify and race in the Cup Series on Saturday and Sunday, respectively:
July 13: Stafford Motor Speedway in Stafford Springs, Connecticut, with NASCAR in Loudon, New Hampshire on July 16. July 20: Thunder Road Speedbowl in Barre, Vermont, with NASCAR at Pocono on July 23. July 27: Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Virginia, with NASCAR in Richmond on July 30. 3: Berlin Raceway in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with NASCAR at Michigan International on August 6. 10: Eldora Speedway in New Weston, Ohio, with NASCAR at Indianapolis on August 13. 17: Lucas Auto Speedway in Wheatland, Missouri, with NASCAR at Watkins Glen on August 20.
It will be easy for Cup Series drivers to shuttle between the top five tracks and their NASCAR obligations. The exception is the series finale, but even that isn’t terribly difficult as SRX ditched its previous Saturday night racing schedule.
Brad Keselowski highlights latest driver announcement slate NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski poses for a photo during NASCAR Production Days at the Charlotte Convention Center on January 18, 2023. | Chris Graythen/Getty Images
After previously teasing NASCAR fans with the news of the limited appearance this season of active Cup Series drivers Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, SRX officials announced this week that Brad Keselowski, an Xfinity and Cup Series champion, will participate in all six races this summer.
Craftsman Truck Series driver Hailie Deegan, who ran a few SRX races in the first two seasons, was also announced as a full-time driver for 2023. In a separate announcement, the series revealed that Denny Hamlin would drive in the opening race.
Deegan has been selected as the truck series’ most popular driver twice in a row, and Hamlin has been a big name for years. Still, it’s Keselowski who will get the most attention as he takes part in the full schedule.
“I’ve watched the SRX series on TV over the years, and given our limited practice and qualifying time in motorsport, it provides another outlet to save time on the track and improve my craft. “, Keselowski said in the announcement. “The addition of ESPN and the return of Thursday Night Thunder is a huge plus as the series continues to bring its exciting product to fans at home. This is an incredible opportunity for me to compete and I’m thrilled that this starts this summer.
Is Brad Keselowski trying to tick NASCAR?
Dropping a mention of limited practice time is unmistakably Brad Keselowski tempting NASCAR. A single, brief pre-race session last season did the drivers a disservice as they acclimated to the Next Gen car. More of the same is in store this season, and NASCAR hasn’t even scheduled a practice for the Daytona 500 until the twin qualifying.
It’s also worth noting that Keselowski and his Roush Fenway Racing team were punished first and hard last season for modifications to equipment provided by a NASCAR-approved supplier. The rollout of the Next Gen car ushered in unprecedented uniformity between Chevy, Ford, and Toyota cars; they are not prepared in the same way, but the differences are slight.
That being the case, Keselowski has just signed for six races in the SRX, where the cars are effectively identical in the tradition of the old IROC series. It is doubtful that this factored into the RFK Racing co-owner’s decision to participate, but the irony is undeniable.
And, whatever his intentions, NASCAR executives can’t be thrilled that he’s the headliner for all six races in the series co-founded by Tony Stewart, who has had his own problems with NASCAR.
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