* Article by Matt Myftiu, news editor at The
to make it to the top, you have to be where the action is.
the case in any industry, and in the case of NASCAR you have to
be in North Carolina.
why the Michigan-based K Automotive Racing team has decided to
head down South for the 2010 racing season, in hopes that the move
will help grow the small family-run team into a Nationwide series
Keselowski, a Rochester Hills native who will drive the team’s
#26 car for the 2010 season and also oversee its operation, said
there are a few reasons for the move. For one thing, the Nationwide
series will be using “Car of Tomorrow” cars in four races
in 2010, requiring approval of every detail of the new cars by NASCAR – something
that would be hard to do from several states away.
Then, most importantly, there is the matter of needing to find qualified
employees who are familiar with what it takes to win in NASCAR.
The team will move from its bare-bones shop in Michigan down to
North Carolina, where the K Automotive cars will occupy part of a
garage once used by Cup Series team owner Travis Carter. Keselowski
will be working with a new crew chief, Dave Suge Jr. After starting
2009 with just a few cars, 2010 begins with the team having 12 cars
in the shop.
“It’s fully stocked, ready to go,” Keselowski
said. “It’s 3 times as big as my Michigan shop. I just
moved my race cars down there.”
move is mostly completed, and Brian said he’s already
working hard at lining up top-notch talent to help the team compete
more in 2010.
“I was just down there last week, after Christmas. I had 25
interviews for people to work on the race team. Experienced guys,
which was a big thing for me,” Keselowski said. “I’ve
never had that. It was never someone who had worked on NASCAR equipment.
Now I’ll have people who have done this before and understand
right now, the K Automotive team has no sponsorship, though there
are some promising leads. In place of tradition sponsorship, the
team will run either one or two additional cars that will likely “start
and park” most races to fund the main car that Keselowski will
“Dennis Setzer is committed to running the #96 car full-time.
I’m probably going to do a third car too, as a start-and-park,
with either Willie Allen or Johnny Chapman driving. If I’m
not going to get any sponsorship, that’s my sponsor.”
“I’m trying to work out a deal where I can have the
extra cars run the full race a few times, too, and not just start-and-park,” he
starting last year with the hope of just surviving and staying
in the top 30 in owner’s points, the team was able to hang
on and achieve that goal, meaning they have an automatic spot in
the first five races of 2010, and can focus on racing well enough
to maintain that for future races.
Now that the team is established, the goals this year are higher.
“I want to run a competitive team, consistently run for top-10s,” Brian
said. That will be difficult until we can get major sponsors. Running
good helps, but at this time and age right now, I don’t see
how it’s going to automatically get you money. There’s
not millions laying around for racing. You have to be lucky, too,
sometimes. Running good never hurts, though.”
In addition, he wants to run a trustworthy organization, and uphold
the good name his family had had in the sport since it began racing
40 years ago.
“My goal again is to pay all the bills, obviously,” Brian
said. “I’m not going to owe people millions of dollars
like some people. Part of the reason I survived last year is I got
a lot of credit, and could pay people at a late date, because of
my family’ reputation. We make sure people get paid, no matter
move down South will be a family affair, as is always the case
with the K Automotive team. Brian will be living in North Carolina
full-time, and his father Bob Keselowski will spend a lot of time
down there helping the team out. While he is in North Carolina,
Bob will stay with Brian’s brother Brad, who rose to fame while
driving for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s team in Nationwide the past
two seasons and made the jump to drive in Cup for Roger Penske in
Brian said it will good for his brother to have family around.
“One good thing is my dad’s going to stay with him when
he’s down there, and he hasn’t had a lot of family around
him in recent years,” Brian said.
just because they’ll now be in the same state, that doesn’t
necessarily mean he’ll see his brother more often.
“We’ll be around each other more, but he’ll be
busy running full-time in two series and I’ll be busy running
my team basically by myself,” Brian said.
year was a struggle, and Brian took himself out of the car for
a while when things weren’t going so well. During that
time, a talented but out-of-work driver named Michael McDowell put
in some impressive performances for K Automotive. In his efforts
to make ends meet, he also leased the car number out a few times
to another driver, Kevin Conway, who wanted a guaranteed starting
spot in a few races.
“It got to the point when I was struggling to find people
to do what I needed to do. I could work on the car or drive, but
I couldn’t do both. It worked out McDowell was looking for
a ride,” Brian said. “We did not pay him to drive the
car. He was hoping to stay up in the points, so it worked out. He
finished in the top 10 a couple times. I had to do what I had to
do to pay the bills. We did that to survive. Same with the Conway
While he was glad to see the team do well with another driver, Brian
is amped up to get back behind the wheel and hit the track in 2010.
“I can’t wait to get back to work,” he said.
main thing is trying to find enough people in Michigan who were
experienced to do this work. They don’t understand what’s
involved. It was difficult to find anyone committed to doing something.
I’d rather not leave Michigan, it’s my
home. But I need to be down there, it’s where everything
revolves around. You have to make the business work.”