Brian Keselowski to attempt Daytona 500

By Joseph Wolkin
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Keselowski hasn’t raced much since making the 2011 Daytona 500. Keselowski raced his way in during the second Gatorade Duel before the Daytona 500 that year and made headlines across the country for it. Not many folks remember that race, but Keselowski certainly does. It was Jeff Burton’s last win in any NASCAR sanctioned race and it marked the Sprint Cup Series debut for the then 29-year old out of Michigan.

The elder of the Keselowski brothers hasn’t seen much success in the world’s most popular form of auto racing. It isn’t because he doesn’t have the talent, it’s simply because he doesn’t have the money. When he made that race, it was the first time he could prove himself to a gigantic television audience and more importantly, potential sponsors. Discount Tire, who sponsored and still sponsors his brother, now reigning Sprint Cup Series champion, Brad Keselowski, in the Nationwide Series, stepped up to the plate and sponsored Brian during that event.

However, even though he was able to race with his brother and run competitively, Keselowski’s dreams were crushed on lap 28 as his car was totaled in a wreck. Since then, he has never been able to race in NASCAR’s elite tier. Later that year, he and his father, former racer, Bob Keselowski, entered their No. 92 Dodge into five more races, but failed to qualify for each of them due to the lack of funding to run competitively. He also ran in the Sprint Showdown, but finished 20th, ahead of just one other competitor that ran all 40 laps during the event. Later that season, he ended up taking a start-and-park ride in the Nationwide Series, hoping to make a few extra bucks for his family race team.

In 2012, Keselowski took the year off from NASCAR attempting to regroup his organization. He fielded a part-time ARCA team and ran the events at Mobile and Berlin. He could have won the event at Mobile, but was involved in an accident and finished 24th, five laps down. Even with all of the heartbreak in his career, nothing has taken Keselowski down.

In order to come up with more funding, he even created his own moving business called BK Moving, which has received over 230 likes on Facebook, but hasn’t worked out too well as a partner in the company didn’t commit the way the he wanted to.

The 2013 season is one Keselowski is looking forward to. He and his Brian Keselowski Motorsports team will be fielding the No. 92 car in the 2013 Daytona 500. The team is also accepting fan sponsorship’s for $30 per name.

“Right now we’re doing a small sponsorship deal for small companies. We’re up to about four or five of them now and with that, we have the fan sponsorship that we’re doing for 30 dollars a name, fans can get it on the side of the car. We’re putting the names just in front of the rear tires behind the numbers and we’ve gotten up to about 40 people signed up for that already,” Keselowski said encouragingly.

via Brian Keselowski’s Facebook page

This is something that many teams have done in the past and have been rather successful with and gives fans the opportunity to have their names on a race car for the Super Bowl of Stock Car racing. The team will give fans the opportunity to have their names on the car with a one by five inch basis for the Gatorade Duel events as well as the Daytona 500 if they make the show.

The team will likely use the Toyota chassis for several reasons.

“It’s more convenient to use it mainly because the engine costs a lot less expensive. Unfortunately, we can’t run a Dodge like we used to be able to do, but the best I can do right now for an engine program is the Toyota side and that’s how we’re going to do it,” Keselowski said.

Their engine package should be named by the end of the week as the team will likely field a Toyota with an engine combination by either REP (Race Engines Plus) Engines from Joey Arrington or Pro Motors from Mark Smith. Arrington fielded a team in the Camping World Truck Series in 2012 with David Starr behind the wheel while Smith owns TriStar Motorsports in the Nationwide Series.

With the way the economy has shaped out, Keselowski isn’t sure whether or not he will make any more attempts after the Daytona 500. He hopes that with a good run, companies will hopefully want to back behind him like the four or five he already has.

“It kind of depends on a few things, mainly sponsorship. If we come up with sponsorship then we would definitely like to. Right now we’re concentrated on running the Daytona 500 where you don’t have to have as much sponsorship as any of the other races mostly because it pays so much to run that race. That’s a big help, but all of the other races are difficult to find sponsorship for and the Daytona 500 is our Super Bowl. With the new car coming through and the engine package, everything is very expensive and we’ll just concentrate on the Daytona 500 and see where we go after that.”

Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.

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