1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s
TRUCK SERIES - 2000s
Into the new millennium the Dennis Setzer / Mopar Performance
run continued to impress. Dennis
entered 2000 having been named the series' Most Popular Driver. In
2000 Setzer won K one race at Nazareth Speedway and completed the
season seventh in the standings. DS ran 24 races in the RAM with
only 4 DNFs. A great year for consistency.
shocking news, though, was the announcement at Dover in September
that Dodge would be backing the rival Ultra Motorsports CTS team
in 2001, leaving the Keselowskis after three decades of MOPAR
competition and partnership. K had a year left on their deal,
Wildberger and Dodge had made their decision. The Keselowski
/ Dodge era was over.
Musgrave debuted Ultra's No.1 Mopar Performance Dodge in the NASCAR
Craftsman Truck Series at Daytona. The pairing immediately produced
success - winning the second time out in Miami. The team went on
to record two poles, seven wins, 13 top fives, and 18 top tens
to finish runner-up in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Championship.
Wrote Laurence Cole in 2001: "It was the work and efforts of the Keselowskis that helped Dodge learn through its rough years. He had remained loyal to Dodge from his days in ARCA to the truck series. He took the time to race an experimental truck, trying out new ideas for the entire Dodge teams to help in their success. Even Setzer found the move by Dodge "questionable" and
hoped that Dodge would reconsider its position. They didn't."
Another fan wrote "It does seem kind of odd to see the number 29
on ANYTHING else but a Mopar. To me, it's like Uncle Sam going to
work for the Russians or the Pope becoming the head of a Satanist
group. Surely it just isn't so!"
Ultra Motorsports, Dodge and the Winston Cup
In 2002, the Cup team moved from Ford to Dodge in a blaze of publiity. They had Sirius Satellite Radio as a sponsor, and hired Casey Atwood to drive the #7 car as part of a new partnership with Evernham Motorsports. Atwood struggled and was replaced by Jason Leffler in the last two races, after the Evernham partnership dissolved. Jimmy Spencer took over in 2003 and had four top ten finishes. The team ran only two races in 2004 after struggling to find a sponsor.
Terry Cook, who had several years of solid results for Duke Thorson
drove the Keselowskis #29 Dodge RAM in a one-race deal at the season
finale at California Speedway and finished seventh. At the time it
was still thought that K would stay with Dodge into 2001 even without
Mopar primary sponsorship. But Dennis Setzer left to race for the
David Dollar team a new era began : K switched to the #29 and Ford
Motor Company - controversial step for a team synonymous with Dodge
racing for three decades.
Said Bob at the time ""Ford offered us support and you need the factory behind you if you expect to do well in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. They will be there to help us with any problems and answer any questions we might have. It's a great opportunity for our race team".
Terry Cook joined the team full-time with sponsorship and immediately
brought home top tens and quality prize checks in the F-150 and the
new era was in full swing.
now K Auto was a true family team. Kay Keselowski was the team
owner and spotter for Cook's No. 29 Power Stroke Diesel Ford, while
husband Bob was the crew chief. In his first year with the team,
Cook won the pole at Nazareth and finished tenth in the standings.
Brad was the signman/statistician and Brian jackman and mechanic.
( Brian had been helping out at races since he was 7 or 8 - ""I have pictures of me staggering race tires for my dad when I was about 7 or 8 years old. I've always liked getting my hands dirty." Brian told NASCAR.COM). Ron
was the truck chief and his son Scotty had recently joined the team
as a gas runner.
didn't get a win in '01 but a string of top five and top ten finishes
meant that 2001 was another good year for K. Brad meanwhile - aged
15 - was already racing Quarter
Midgets at this time. His older brother Brian got together a Super
Late Model car and was putting in races at the local tracks. He
borrowed used motors from his father's Truck team, and by 2000
Brian had bought his own Late Model car and won rookie of the year.
Brian, running his own program, had already put himself in good
stead for taking on more responibility at the end of the decade.
2002, K and Terry
Cook took four race wins and two poles but dropped to ninth in the
final points. After TC did not win again in 2003, he and PSD left
the team to try his luck with Greg Pollex.
2003 : LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT
Officers and Board of Directors for the Michigan Automobile Racing
Fan Club have selected Bob Keselowski to receive the MARFC/Eddie
Sachs Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award for over 30 years of
auto racing. "It is a great honor to be recognized and to receive the MARFC/Eddie Sachs Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award for accomplishments in racing," said Bob Keselowski at the time. "The
fans in Michigan are great to K-Automotive and these are fans that
we have had for years that have followed our growth. As we developed,
my first career highlight was winning the track championship at
Toledo in 1983. The same thing my son just won and he will also
be recognized during the MARFC Annual Awards Banquet. It was the
first major thing I had done in my career. I won a few local races,
but that was the first championship of any kind and the first notable
thing I could hang on the wall.
went by and our biggest goal to accomplish was to run Winston Cup
and just be involved with NASCAR any way we could. Once the NASCAR
Craftsman Truck Series started up, we were happy to become involved.
On a Thursday night under the Richmond lights in 1997, I won a
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race. It was a great feeling to win
in front of the Winston Cup crowd and all the media. I couldn't
ask for a better story script. Then after my driving career ended
it was a big accomplishment to become a winning crew chief. I've
covered about every aspect of racing from the floor sweeper to
the five year old son to the mechanic to the crew chief to the
driver to the owner."
Brad's Late Model from 2003
K entered 2004 with Frank Kimmel driving the F-150 - moonlighting from his regular drive with Larry Clement in the ARCA Series.. Frank was a regular winner in ARCA at this time so it was disappointing that he finished eighth at Daytona and 30th a month later in Atlanta. This is the point where the decision was made to give Brad, who had been doing well at Late Model level, the job full time. Frsnk
returned one more time in the K truck at Charlotte and took P13.
Brad had been working his way up the ladder since taking up Senior
Honda 120 Quarter Midgets in 1998 at the age of 14. He qualified his Limited Late Model pole for five events in 2001 and recorded one win and five top five finishes. Over the 2002 and 2003 season, he'd added another 11 poles as well as two Limited Late Model wins and two Super Late Model wins.
Behind the wheel of the 29 truck he made eight NCTS races in 2004, his best finish sixteenth at Mansfield (right behind was a young Carl Edwards in a Jack Roush Ford). Deborah Renshaw then took over the drive and finished out the season with a best finish at Martinsville Speedway; fifteenth.
proved his worth - two ARCA starts helped too - and he would become
the teams main driver in the F-150 into 2005
JULY 9 2004 - BROTHER V BROTHER
An auspicious day - when both brothers were racing in the same competitionat
Kentucky Speedway - neither for K-Automotive. Brian was in
Ducharme's #29 Dodge, and Brad making his Chevy debut in Jan Gibson's
#56. The 52 gave up early, but Brian drove home a top ten finish.
Both guys were driving their first ARCA Race.
In June 2005 Brian made his debut in the ARCA Series at the wheel of a family owned #29 Ford Taurus at MIS, running the whole race and taking P17.
Brad takes the wheel of the truck, 2005.
race interview with
Brian from Toledo ARCA debut http://truckseries.com/cgi-script/csArticles/articles/000006/000610.htm
entering Brian in the ARCA and Brad in the Truck race at MIS in June
2005 the K-Automotive Team were running in two series with Bob
running Brad's #29 F-150 in the Craftesman Trucks and Ron looking
after Brian's ARCA cars, which raced at Berlin, Lake Erie, MIS,
Toledo and Salem. All but
the last (accident on lap 86) were top ten finishes.
TRUCK SERIES - BRAD TAKES THE WHEEL FULL TIME
Brad became the team's full-time driver in 2005 with SUBcrews.com/Samson
Stone as primary sponsors. He had a seventh-place finish at Daytona
and finished 21st in points for the year running 24 races.
Brad Keselowski, front, stands near his 2005 Ford racing truck with his family, clockwise from top left, Kathy Samborski, Kay Keselowski, Ginger Hoffman, Brian Keselowski and Bob Keselowski at the K Automotive Mototsports race shop. Brad will race the truck in the Paramount Health Insurance 200 NASCAR Trucks series race Saturday (June 15th 2005) at Michigan International Speedway.
Brad in K gear
A tough start. January came with expectations of funding and building
a new fleet of race trucks. The clock kept ticking, the re-build
happened on schedule but the funding did not materialize. As
Daytona drew nearer and the promises of funding drew fainter,
it appeared that Daytona would not be attainable. So many people
put so much effort into preparing for this first race of the
season. It was incomprehensible that all of those efforts would
be for naught. The week before Daytona race week, the news was
announced that K would not be able to attend the event.
An old friend stepped in to fund the trip at the last momentbut
a 72nd lap accident didn't bode well . The team made Fontana
with the help of a partnership operation and a creditable 16th
finish looked good, but for Atlanta the team was forced to withdraw.
By May the team was aiming to build a partial schedule but February
2006 proved to be Brad's last race for Team K.
The 29 had two more outings - with Kraig Kinser driving a Chevy Silverado at Atlanta and Martinsville, but the K Automtive run in the Craftsman Truck Series was effectivly over.
BRAD STRIKES OUT
Brad from here was on his own. First stop a one off ARCA race with
John Conely at MIS then back for a few truck runs in Ed Sutton's
#02 Chevy. Then in September 06 he began driving in the Busch Series
for Keith Coleman in the 23 car, forging a future that would take
him via a career-defining two jears with Dale Earnhardt Jr's JR Motorsports to
Penske Racing. Once again, a Keselowski at the wheel of a Dodge.
Brian had been clocking up the miles too: Earlier in his race career
secured the 2003 Super Late Model Stock Car track championship at the Toledo
Speedway in only his second full season of Super Late Model competition. His first full season came in the 2000 season where he competed at the Auto City Speedway earning the Rookie of the Year title in Super Late Model. Brian
began his professional career back in May 04 for Bob Ducharme Racing
in the ARCA Series. He had previously spent his weekends' working
full time on the K Automotive NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team
as a jack man on the pit crew as well as a mechanic both in the race
shop in Michigan and trackside.
Dr Bob Ducharme - Part owner of Auto City Speedway in Clio Did K buy out this team? Is this what got the K back up and running in ARCA?
2005 Car at Salem
In 2005 Brian drove in seven races, all in Keselowski owned cars. At Michigan and Kentucky the Taurus was the drive of choice - the latter gaining a 5th spot on the grid and a seventh place finish. July saw another small piece of history as, in Berlin, Brian took the track in a K owned Dodge. The family were back working with the manafucture that they had started with and worked with for thirty years. At Berlin Brian and the Dodge car were a lucky combination. His next two races at this track ended in victory lane.
The team's first full season after the truck team suspended operations
was at Salem in April in Ron's ARCA cars. Brian was behind at the
wheel in an ARCA race for the first time since September 05. Brian
was confident after a string of ARCA top tens in July and August
the year before, a run halted by an accident at Salem. And
now here he was at Salem again. It wasn't an easy start as Brian
was involved in a lap 22 accident. A month later the team's Dodge
Intrepid was back at Toledo, and a fourth place finish put the team
back on track.
Brian's first ARCA Series victory came at Berlin Raceway in July.
The no. 29 Holloway Motorsports-Dusty's Collision Dodge led for 55
laps. Brian held off late-races charges from veteran Frank Kimmel
and rookie Blake Bjorklund to earn his career-first victory in the
Sara Lee-GFS Marketplace 200. Bob Keselowski, who crew-chiefed his
son during the race, had won his first ARCA race at Berlin in 1986
- 20 years earlier.
This set up a fine run of results into 2007, a run that resulted
in a hatful of top tens, a great victory in at Salem (leading over
half the race laps), and an incredible repeat win at Berlin
for Brian the next summer. Second in this race was a hot young driver
named Michael McDowell, who himself led 91 laps of the race, and
would race very effectively for the K in 2009.
Brian's Berlin win
2007 - 2010 NATIONWIDE SERIE
In November of 2006 Brian made his Busch Series debut at Phoenix
International Raceway in Keith Coleman's #22 Chevy Monte Carlo.
A lap 22 accident ended the race early, but he was soon
back in this level the next year thanks to Dusty Whitney's entry
of a Dodge Charger at Indianapolis Raceway and MIS in 2007.
Team K had partnered with Holloway Motorsports to field these entries
in the Nationwide Series. K ran one race as the #19 and then as the
#49 for three more races with Brian Keselowski driving, with a top-ten
finish at Memphis Motorsports Park. In these races the competition
included brother Brad who by now was racing in the #88 NAVY car for
JR Motorsports. Dusty delivered NNS rides at the end of the season
for Brian at Memphis and Homestead.
In 2008 Brian drove briefly for Jay Robinson Racing, again at Nationwwide level, then moved to the K team's #92 Dodge to drive a Dodge Charger on a part-time schedule - racing through the summer into the home town race at Michigan .
In 2009, the team changed numbers from #92 to #26 for their main car, and began to run full-time with limited sponsorship from Fischer Honda and Dusty's Collisions. Brian drove most of the races early on in the year with with his best finish of 14th at Talladega.But for handling issues at Texas and Nashville the car was running the distance.
August 2009 : Battle over the Border
Montreal was Brian Keselowski's first road course debut and it was a tough one for sure. Having never been on a road course Brian did his best to get the # 26 2XL/Fischer Honda car around the track without incident and he got out there for qualifying. Unfortunately mechanical problems took Brian out of the race early but Michael McDowell who was running 4th in practice in the # 96 Dodge had a decent qualifying run and during the race was as high as 4th place driving a car that was originally built for a speedway! Brakes were heating up but he held on tight, despite a last minute spinout that put him back to 28th position Michael took the K-Auto Dodge back up to 11th position within the last 20 laps.Later in the year Michael McDowell took over the ride. He drove to a 8th place finish in Iowa as well as a 10th at Bristol and 11th at Montreal these finishes being the best for the team in a long time. The team also began running a second car with Dennis Setzer but this team usually start and parked to keep the other team racing. -
2010 Brian and the team opened up a new facility in Mooresville and things were beginning to come together for a fresh run in 2010.
JK Owner stats http://racing-reference.info/owner?id=keseljo01
Bob K Owner Stats http://www.racing-reference.info/owner?id=keselbo01
Some pics of the K-Automotive shop in 2005
At Toledo, 2008 with son Brian, who was driving for Ken Schrader.