Brad Keselowski announced Thursday night that he will be closing the doors of Brad Keselowski Racing following the 2017 season. This comes as a huge blow to not only the employees but also the Camping World Truck Series as a whole. BKR was the remaining Ford factory team, without BKR the series is down to two manufacturers. Not only two but one that exponentially outspends the other.
Currently, the team fields two trucks in the series for Austin Cindric and Chase Briscoe. Previous drivers for the team include Ryan Blaney, Daniel Hemric, Tyler Reddick and others. The team currently has one truck in the playoffs with Cindric sitting two spots out of the Top 8. It’s not like BKR hasn’t had success but it hasn’t had the success Kyle Busch Motorsports or even ThorSport have had. If the team is losing money though that doesn’t make sense from a business standpoint.
What Is To Blame?
While Brad wouldn’t explicitly say what was to blame the rising costs of the series have to be the determining factor. Kyle Busch said this year it cost $3.2M to run a truck team. That number is way too high and he even said that number needs to be $2M. Unfortunately, KBM and Toyota Racing Development are to blame for the rising costs of the truck series combined with NASCAR.
TRD has pumped a ton of money into the series since they joined in 2004. Since then they have claimed 6 drivers championships and 9 manufacturers championships. They’ve won countless races while sponsoring and funding the biggest teams in the truck series. TRD uses the truck series to develop drivers but they’re also in it to win, and they’ve won.
Since joining the series in 2004 Toyota has won 166 races out of the 326 races in that time. Meaning they have won 51% of the time. Jimmie Johnson hasn’t even won 51% of the time. In 2014 Toyota won 18 of 22 races. An affordable feeder series has essentially become unaffordable due to too much manufacturer involvement. What Toyota has done for the sport money wise by creating more competitive teams is great. When you outspend every other team and manufacturer that is not ideal. One manufacturer with unlimited resources can kill a series and that is what is happening.
NASCAR is also to blame for this as well. The truck series in its inception was based on short tracks across the country. A beat and bang series that toured the short tracks of America and gave everyone a taste of NASCAR when the Cup series couldn’t be there. As time has gone on the series has got away from short tracks and moved to speedways to mirror the Cup series. Tandem weekends have become the norm in the truck series and that needs to change. The series is down to 4 short tracks in 2017 compared to the 13 or 15 short track races when the series started.
Running speedways is expensive. From the research that goes into finding more downforce to the severity of crashes, everything is more expensive when you run bigger tracks. NASCAR needs to move back to the short tracks in an effort to save money.
What Can Be Done?
Besides moving back to short tracks, NASCAR needs to come up with more cost-saving measures. A spending cap would be a good place to start and you cap it at $2M like Kyle Busch said. Limiting Cup drivers is a good start to create a healthy truck regular fan base. The Illmor engine is a great way to start with cost saving, the composite flange bodies are another step in the right direction. Ford and Chevy will never put the money into the series that Toyota does. It’s up to NASCAR to ensure the series becomes healthy again.
Don’t Blame Brad
It isn’t Brad Keselowski’s job to save the series and pump money into it. At the end of the day if it’s not making money it doesn’t make sense to stay in the series. Brad isn’t Roger Penske wealthy where he can afford to run the team as a hobby. He mentioned that in his blog, he needs to be successful outside of racing before he can become a team owner again.
Losing money is never fun, telling people they won’t have a job after Homestead is even worse. Obviously, he didn’t take this lightly, he controls the fate of families and futures. It’s part of racing though.
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