By most accounts Brad Keselowski’s 2020 campaign was a success.
Keselowski finished second in the Cup standings, his first top-3 finish since his 2012 title-winning season and he won four races, the most since also winning four in 2016.
However, it was still a second-place finish to Chase Elliott.
"Second stinks,” Keselowski said. “At the end of the day it is the result. It certainly could be a lot worse, but to get that close and not bring it home is a sting. You can either let that burn stay with you or you can try to work through it and be better. I'll try to work through it and better.”
Crew chief Jeremy Bullins and Keselowski, who drives the No. 2 Ford Mustang for Team Penske, will be looking for another strong season in 2021, which opens with the Clash at Daytona on Feb. 9 with the Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Feb. 28.
“I know his commitment is high,” Keselowski said of Bullins. “I think he's a great person and we have the capability of reaching that next level. There’s some work cut out for us. There’s going to be some great competition next year. The moves Chevrolet is making are really strong, They're going to be a super force to be reckon with and having won the championship last year they're going to have a lot to work with. We're going to have to put everything together and execute a little bit better. The bar is being raised every year and we have to be able to raise it ourselves as well. I think the commitment is there, the hunger is there and I’m looking forward to it.”
Elliott led a race-high 153 laps at the final race at Phoenix Raceway to win his first NASCAR Cup Series title and at 24 years old, became the third-youngest Cup Series champion. Keselowski, who was searching for his second championship, finished 2.740 seconds behind Elliott. Joey Logano, the 2018 Cup winner, and Denny Hamlin were also a part of the Championship 4.
"I don’t think you should ever forget it,” Keselowski said of the second-place finish. “I think you should always remember it. There were some really great moments, but as far as the actual championship finish I think you should use it as a lesson. I read a quote the other day that, ‘I never lose, I just learn better, sometimes the hard way.’ If you keep that mentality, I think that’s how you continue that commitment of finding that next level that you'll need to find to be a champion in 2021.”
While Keselowski will be looking for another strong season, a pair of his former drivers who were a part of his now-defunct truck team, Brad Keselowski Racing, will also be looking for success in 2021 as Ryan Blaney finished ninth in the Cup standings and Chase Briscoe earned a promotion to the Cup Series and will drive the No. 14 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing.
"The timing was really fortunate for me,” said Blaney, who joined Keselowski’s team in 2012. “Brad came up to me after a Kentucky race one time and talked to me all the way back to the garage. I didn't know it at the time, but he was kind of interviewing me to drive his trucks. That truck team opened up a lot of doors. Obviously a lot of drivers are on call right now and a lot of us are in Cup or Xfinity at really good homes. He's done a lot for young drivers. I'll never forget and I owe Brad a big debt. He was a big part of getting me rolling in NASCAR."
Briscoe was also grateful for the opportunity.
"It was huge,” Briscoe said. “It was just cool for me to drive for Brad because when I moved to North Carolina the first shop I started volunteering at was Brian and Bob Keselowski and for it come full circle and be able to drive for Brad and really get my first shot in NASCAR... Truthfully because of Brad, that was the whole reason why I got my Ford development contract. Without Brad there's no way I would be sitting here. He was a huge part of my career and always will be."
Keselowski is proud of his truck team, which was in existence for 11 years from 2007-17.
"It's humbling and I'm really proud of it,” Keselowski said. “In a lot of ways I wish it was still going. Who knows maybe one day it will come back again. I'm proud of all of these guys for making it to Cup. It's really a hell of accomplishment. You make it to Cup, you're one of the 40 best. And to see these guys have success in various forms is very rewarding to me."