Roush preparing to pass the baton – eventually

Jack Roush is not retiring. He made that clear Tuesday morning. But while Roush, 79, still plans to be present at the racetrack going forward, Brad Keselowski purchasing minority ownership in his organization does clear the way for a succession plan.

“I’ve been asked to say that I’m passing my baton to him, which I am, but I still have one hand on the thing,” Roush said. “So, I’m not going to give up too quickly for a while. There’s no retirement plans for me in my immediate future. I intend to keep going to the racetrack the way I have and to be as much as a nuisance and distraction as I can to my drivers and crew chiefs.

“But over a period of time, Brad will earn his independence, and he will gain a significant position of ownership in the team… Brad Keselowski and the Next Gen car, and the things that we can do together in the near term and the long term is my retirement plan, and I just hope I can take lots of green flags and checkered flags before we get there.”

The terms of the deal between Roush and Keselowski were not disclosed. Nor was the percentage stake Keselowski will have in the organization, but for now, he is a minority co-owner.

Steve Newmark, team president of Roush Fenway Racing, has the hope and expectation that Keselowski’s ownership stake may grow over the years. And, after Keselowski’s driving career is over, there is a structure in place for him to assume a more significant leadership role.

“A lot of those details we don’t think are relevant now because they’re so far off in the future, and then we’ll see how things evolve,” Newmark said. “But one of the things that was most appealing to us about this transaction is we now have five, 10, 15 years of strategic plans on how we’re going to keep growing and getting better.”

An ownership stake in NASCAR is something Keselowski, 37, has thought about for years and could not do with Roger Penske. During Tuesday’s announcement, Keselowski referenced one of the models he looked at was three-time champion Tony Stewart. Additionally, Keselowski noted he is the same age and has the same number of Cup victories as Stewart did when he left Joe Gibbs Racing to partner with Gene Haas to form Stewart-Haas Racing.

“(Ownership) … represents growth for me personally and professionally, which is very important,” Keselowski said. “There were a lot of opportunities that were thrown at me by Team Penske or other teams, but not one of them held a candle to this one. So, I’m really excited about it. It was nothing short of a no-brainer for me to take this opportunity.”

Keselowski will drive the No. 6 Ford Mustang. Chris Buescher is under contract and will remain in the No. 17 Ford Mustang.