Motorsport News

RFK Racing Forging a Path to the Playoffs

NASCAR Cup Series

With half of the NASCAR Cup Series regular season in the books, we are getting a better picture of who is on track to make the playoffs. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that both RFK Racing drivers are among the 16 above the cut line. Owner/driver Brad Keselowski scored a fourth-place finish at Darlington Raceway last weekend and finds himself ninth in overall points. Chris Buescher clawed his way to a 10th-place result at the Track Too Tough to Tame. He is 13th in overall points with a growing advantage over the postseason cutoff. Considering the struggles this team went through in 2022, it feels like things are turning around for RFK. 

It was only last year that Roush-Fenway Racing brought on Keselowski as a new co-owner, hoping that his leadership could reverse a decade of declining performance. Although Keselowski and Buescher each won a Daytona 500 qualifying race last year, most of the season was rough. Keselowski got hit with a 100-point penalty early on and never found his groove. He earned no wins, only one top five and six top 10s the entire season. After being a perennial championship contender for over a decade with Team Penske, 2022 had to be a rude awakening for Keselowski.

Buscher and the No. 17 team were the first to show signs of improvement. He ended a long drought by winning the second race at Bristol Motor Speedway, the playoff race under the lights, a victory that came too late to qualify for the playoffs. Buscher also earned three top fives and 10 top 10s in 2022, which were personal bests for a Cup Series season. The No. 17 team certainly had room for improvement, but it at least laid a foundation for bigger things in 2023.

Keselowski’s status as a former champion and Buescher’s Bristol victory made them both trendy playoff picks for this season. Yet no one knew for sure if the team had found enough speed to contend for wins more regularly. If not, could they score more points than the other fringe playoff contenders? Drivers like Austin Cindric, Chase Briscoe, Daniel Suarez and Austin Dillon all won races and made the playoffs over Keselowski and Buescher last year. RFK would also have to contend with past Cup Series winners like Erik Jones, Bubba Wallace, AJ Allmendinger and Aric Almirola. The potential was there, but RFK was up against a lot of tough competition.

Now, 13 races into the season, the points are starting to add up, and Keselowski and Buescher are in better shape than most of the other…

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