Former NASCAR Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski put on the kind of performance at New Hampshire on Sunday that definitely puts him in the conversation as one of the favorites to become a member of the final four that will race for this season’s title later in the year at Phoenix.
His win Sunday at the “Magic Mile” was his third of the season but it was the way that he dominated in his Penske Racing Ford that may have put the rest of the series on notice.
The battle for a trip to New Hampshire’s victory lane was a two-man battle all race long between Keselowski and Denny Hamlin.
The two were responsible for 18 of the 23 lead changes in the race with the last one coming with eighty-one laps remaining when Keselowski took the lead for the final time to go on to a 1.647 seconds win over second place Hamlin. While Keselowski is one of the hottest drivers in the sport at this time, his future at Penske Racing is yet to be determined. There is no doubt that Penske would like to keep him but with the time and success that he has already put into the sport his price tag will eventually determine where he lands in 2021.
Owners no longer are quick to sign drivers to big contracts as the number of talented and young drivers trying to move their way up to the Cup level are eager to put their name on the dotted line for far less than what an established driver would consider.
The success that Penske and Keselowski has had together in the past leads you to believe that the two will try to hammer out a deal that would keep the them together for several years to come.
If that doesn’t happen, Keselowski would find himself as the number one option for several teams that will be in the market for an established driver with a winning pedigree. One rumor that has been floating around since the start of the season has Keselowski the favorite to take over the #48 Chevrolet at Hendrick Motorsports for the retiring Jimmie Johnson.
That is the premier open seat going into the 2021 season but in recent weeks there has been talk that HMS could be reducing its car count from four to three. If that move does happen, Alex Bowman who now dives #88 for HMS is expected to move into Johnson’s vacated seat.
Chip Ganassi Racing has the other high profile seat that will be on the open market after this season. Ganassi released Kyle Larson from his driving duties of its #42 Chevrolet during the break for the COVID-19 virus over a racial slur and replaced him for the remainder of this season with the veteran Matt Kenseth.
It’s a ride where a driver can win races and would be another good landing spot for Keselowski if he hits the open market.
Joining Keselowski as a free agent heading into the next season is Richard Motorsports’ driver Bubba Wallace who in recent weeks has gained a ton of momentum heading into free agency. When he drove RPM’s “Black Lives Matter” car at Martinsville in June, he suddenly became the face of NASCAR in many people’s eyes.
He soon was being booked for national TV appearances and in the process attracted a new multi-year team sponsor in Cash App as well as picking up a personal endorsement deal with Beats by Dre.
The amount of exposure that he has accumulated over the summer now has him in a position to move to another ride for next season and Ganassi’s open seat is reported to be one of the potential landing spots for not only his talent as a driver but also for his ability to attract a sponsor.
Over the weekend it was reported that RPM’s owner Andrew Murstein offered an ownership stake to Wallace to keep him in the ride for next season and moving forward. Wallace may not have the finishes of a Keselowski as he hits the open market, but he seems to be in a good position moving forward.