Ford Performance teams with BKR to launch driver development program

BY Joe Menzer • January 12, 2017

Ford Performance is teaming up with Brad Keselowski Racing to launch a driver development program that it intends to eventually benefit all of its NASCAR teams.

The announcement came Thursday from Ford Motor Co. out of Dearborn, Michigan, where Chase Briscoe was tabbed as the first driver to be initiated into the new program.

Briscoe will drive in 2017 in the Camping World Truck Series for BKR, as well as being involved in Ford Product Development testing efforts.

Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Ford for Team Penske in the Monster Energy Cup Series, is the 2012 NASCAR Premier Series champion and also a former champion in the XFINITY Series who heads up the BKR operation that currently fields two full-time entries – the No. 19 and the No. 29 Fords -- in the Truck Series. BKR also fields the No. 2 Ford in select NCWTS races.

“This is a big day in the history of BKR,” said Keselowski.  “To be recognized as a true partner to Ford and Ford Performance and what they are trying to do speaks directly to the hard work our team has put in over the last several years. It is an honor, frankly, and it is really what BKR is all about – providing young, talented drivers with championship-caliber equipment to continue to hone their craft and showcase their talents.

“We have been fortunate to have had a lot of success together with Ford across the three major NASCAR touring series and to now elevate that relationship in an official capacity is a testament to what we set out to do.”

Briscoe, 22, is an Indiana native who is coming off a 2016 championship in the ARCA series, where he captured six wins.  He has been racing since 2001 in a variety of series, including quarter midgets, sprint cars, Peak Stock Car Dream Challenge and K&N Pro Series West.

Last year Daniel Hemric drove the No. 19 for BKR and finished sixth in points, but he’s moving on to drive full-time in the XFINITY Series for Richard Childress Racing in 2017. BKR also severed its three-year ties with Tyler Reddick, the driver of the No. 29 truck in 2016 who is subsequently picked up a part-time XFINITY ride with Chip Ganassi Racing.

The only other driver besides Briscoe that BKR has lined up for certain in 2017 is Austin Cindric, but it hasn’t been announced which truck he will drive.

Ford Performance, meanwhile, says it hopes to add other teams to its “multi-tiered” driver development program that it intends to translate into Ford victories at the track in all three of NASCAR’s national touring series over time.

“We’re making a commitment to win long-term in NASCAR,” said Dave Pericak, global director, Ford Performance.  “We have been increasing our engineering support and our technological development at the team level, and now we’re looking to work with our teams to find the best available drivers coming up in the sport.”

The BKR effort, as well as other to-be-announced driver development efforts at different levels, will develop talent for all Ford teams in NASCAR. Current teams will be consulted as part of the selection process, but drivers in the program will have contractual obligations to Ford.

“Starting this program with BKR makes sense since it has made a significant investment in its NASCAR Camping World Truck Series operation and it is reflected in its success on the track,” said Pericak.  “As we at Ford look to develop new winning drivers for, ultimately, our Cup Series teams, the BKR model is a proven step in that ladder. We are enthusiastic about the role BKR will play in our efforts and we look forward to working very closely with the team in driver selection, engineering, and other mission-critical areas.”



share story