- Associated Press - Saturday, September 14, 2013

JOLIET, ILL. (AP) - Brad Keselowski came up empty again in the Truck Series when he finished second to Kyle Busch at Chicagoland Speedway.

It was the fifth runner-up finish of his career, but Keselowski saw the silver lining: He and Ryan Blaney finished second and third for a big night for Brad Keselowski Racing.

The race team is hard work for the defending Sprint Cup Series champion, who doesn’t have the funds to fill the sponsorship gaps himself. He leans on his employees to make do with less in areas that fall short of a budget that requires between $3 million and $4 million annually.

“I think you look at the team owners in the truck series and the majority are independently wealthy and willing to invest and lose money,” Keselowski said after Friday night’s race. “I don’t have that ability and every dime I’ve made is off of racing and as a driver. The sponsorship cost that it takes to run this series competitively is not something you are going to be able to generate from sponsors. It’s hard for me to close that gap, personally, and there comes a limit of how much you can do.

“There are a lot of areas that we could be better that don’t require funding, and that’s what I work on every day with my people. That’s not from spending more money, but from working harder and smarter and they are starting to really grasp that concept.”

Keselowski practically grew up at the race track as his parents owned their own Truck Series team, and he learned the do’s and don’ts of the ownership side at an early age. It gave him a love for the series, and also gave him a comfort level in the garage area that raised eyebrows when he arrived as a driver.

Confident and opinionated, Keselowski has never been shy about speaking his mind. It rubbed veterans the wrong way as he refused to back down on or off the track, and only got louder as he grew more successful.

While he’s been accused of not having earned the right to be so outspoken, Keselowski shrugs it off.

“The truck team is such an important effort for me personally. Along the way, I say a lot of things and sometimes get myself in a lot of trouble and sometimes have a lot of strong opinions,” he said. “A lot of people will tell me that I haven’t earned that right to do so, or haven’t been around as long as Jeff Gordon or haven’t done things as long as Jimmie Johnson. But to me, obviously winning a championship is validation and makes me feel better about saying those things, but owning a team and reinvesting in the sport, which is something the majority of those people don’t do, makes me feel I have a spot in the sport and the right to a louder voice.

“And that’s why team ownership in this series is series so important to me.”

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