<> during the NASCAR Camping World Truck UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 16, 2017 in Bristol, Tennessee.

Prominent NASCAR champ will shut down truck operations after this season

Brad Keselowski racing announced late Thursday that it will shut down its truck team operations at the end of this NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season,

The NASCAR champion made the announcement on the team's website.and with a post on Twitter.

His on his personal blog, Keselowski wrote: "Today, I had to do one of the most difficult things I've ever done: tell my employees that Brad Keselowski Racing would be closing down its truck racing teams."

He also notes that the sponsorship difficulties roiling the sport played a role in his decision:

Like I said, this was a really hard decision to make. I've anguished over it for probably the last four or five months. In the end, there just were a lot of factors that, taken together, made it difficult for me to continue to operate a team in the truck series.

My contract with Team Penske and the process related to it were definitely a consideration. It is tougher to get deals done now, and it's only going to get harder. I'm no longer a driver who's just starting out, and as I get older, it's more difficult to justify losing money, especially as I look toward the future.

Along those lines, some of you may be wondering whether the new NASCAR rules about how many races a driver could run played a part in this. It wasn't connected to that at all.

Chase Briscoe (fourth in the points standing), and Austin Cindric  (10th) are the team's current drivers.

Keselowski also said the move allows him to chase his team --- become an owner at the top level of NASCAR.

I've never made it a secret that I would eventually like to be an owner at the top level of the sport. And, while this is many years down the line, I want to start to prepare for that possibility now. Part of that preparation is seeking to develop an advanced engineering and manufacturing company that would be housed out of our 78,000-square-foot facility in Statesville and ultimately help to support this vision.