MOORESVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Team Penske has locked up 2012 NASCAR Cup champion Brad Keselowski with a multiyear extension.
The 33-year-old Keselowski has driven for Penske throughout his 10-year career in NASCAR’s top series, notching 23 wins and the series title five years ago. His crew chief with the No. 2 Ford, Paul Wolfe, has also agreed to a multiyear extension with Penske. Terms of the agreements were not disclosed Tuesday.
“In the time that Brad has driven for Team Penske, he has risen to the top echelon of stars in NASCAR,” owner Roger Penske said Tuesday. “Brad and Paul have established a terrific, winning combination and they are both real leaders within our team.”
Keselowski has two Cup wins so far this season, at Atlanta and Martinsville, and is sixth in the points standings.
“We’ve made some great progress so far. Sure, it’s human nature to look around, and take a look at your neighbors’ houses. Maybe there are some with patches of grass that look better from a distance. Maybe there are others that look a little worse,” Keselowski wrote on his blog. “I like our house. I was very interested in just sticking around and watering my own grass.”
He also denied he talked with anyone at Hendrick Motorsports about taking over for the retired Dale Earnhardt Jr. next season in the No. 88.
“I never had any conversations or talks with anyone about it, but I always assumed that the possibility was there,” Keselowski wrote on his blog. “I could see how it would make sense to fans, too. I drove for Dale in the past, so there’s a relationship and a legacy that goes along with that. And the 88 car is an elite ride. There’s a deep connection that the 88 has had and is going to have with fans, and I think anyone would have been proud to extend that history in some small way.
“But at the end of the day, remaining loyal to Roger Penske was important to me, and the opportunity with Team Penske outweighed the opportunity to take over for Dale.”
Keselowski joined Penske near the end of the 2009 season and Wolfe joined him prior to the 2010 Xfinity Series season. They won the 2010 Xfinity drivers’ championship with six wins and a series-record 26 top-five finishes. Wolfe then joined Keselowski on the No. 2 and they have earned six trips to the NASCAR playoffs.
“There is no one I want helping make my racecars go fast more than Paul Wolfe,” Keselowski said. “We have a lot of continuity between the two of us, and really the entire No. 2 Ford team, which is so important in today’s NASCAR.”
Keselowski, a native of Rochester Hills, Michigan, is tied with Ricky Rudd for 33rd on the career wins list.
“Brad’s been a great teammate for the last four or so years for me,” Penske driver Joey Logano said. “He’s an outside-the box-thinker, which you’ve got to have a few of those in the mix.”
Penske signed Logano, the 2015 Daytona 500 champion, to an extension earlier this year that runs through 2023. With Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing also experiencing major lineup shifts the last few years, Penske has found stability in Logano and Keselowski.
“Any time you have a new teammate, it takes a year or so to get on track,” Logano said. “Having Brad sign on for some time is a good thing.”
Penske could be close to a decision on what to do with Ryan Blaney in 2018. Blaney is under contract to Penske and has been farmed out this season to race for The Wood Brothers. Blaney won his first career Cup race this year at Pocono and could return to the Penske fold next year.
“I’d be all right with it, obviously,” Logano said. “We already kind of feel like we have that (teammate) in a way, even though it is under The Wood Brothers name. It still feels very close in the way we’ve structured the deal.”