Buescher won at Bristol last year and Richmond this past weekend, and Keselowski was in contention for the win in both of those races as well. At Bristol, the 2012 NASCAR Cup Series champion led the race until a flat tire with less than 100 laps to go.
At Richmond, he won Stage 2, but fell behind as the handling went away on his No. 6 Ford.
“I mean, obviously I want to win the race as a driver,” admitted Keselowski. “That’s super important to me. Bristol honestly stung a lot more than this did because it was out of our control where we blew a tire. Here I think there were some things in my control, our control as a team. I wasn’t flawless today. There’s a little bit of work to do there on my end.
“I don’t think it stings so much the way Bristol did. In both cases we had two good cars and we were able to strike with the 17 car. That’s something to be proud of.”
Brad Keselowski, RFK Racing, BuildSubmarines.com Ford Mustang, Chris Buescher, RFK Racing, Fastenal Ford Mustang
Photo by: Matthew T. Thacker / NKP / Motorsport Images
It’s a bittersweet outcome, with RFK continuing to show improvements, but Keselowski yet to find Victory Lane for himself. He was also leading at Atlanta earlier this year, only to be passed by Joey Logano on the final lap.
“Both cars seemed to find their way to the front,” said Keselowski, reflecting on Richmond. “Got to the lead in Stage 2. Somebody told me there were five or 10 laps to go. Chris was running second. I knew he would be a contender, a threat. What did you start, 23rd? (26th). At that point, passed 24 cars. To do that, I knew he was really strong. We had the stage win there at the end of stage two. When we began stage three, Chris was able to keep right up with me. I think he was actually a little faster than me.
“He had a great pit sequence. I struggled a little bit on the pit sequence with some of my stuff. He found himself at the lead, never looked back there about 110, 120 to go, I guess.”
Missing out on a 1-2 finish
Keselowski finished sixth at Richmond, but desperately wanted a 1-2 result after “tremendous execution” from both teams.
“That’s the ultimate goal,” he said. “We didn’t get that, but we still had a heck of a day where we ran 1-2 the parts. This is kind of the next step for us, is to be able to win races on a contender basis. I told somebody, a lot of you guys here this year, we moved from irrelevant to relevant. The next step is to try to be contenders. You get to the contender status by winning races.
“We’re not where we want to be. We want to be where we win every week, we’re 1-2 finishing. This is another step in our progression and a lot to be proud of.”
Buescher is now locked into the playoffs, and Keselowski is 133 points above the cut line. It’s a far cry from 2022 when both drivers missed the playoffs completely. The NASCAR Cup Series now heads to Keselowski’s home track in Michigan — a track where victory has eluded him 25 times.