KANSAS CITY, Kan. Brad Keselowski’s take on the penalties NASCAR slammed his Penske Racing team with earlier this week?
“We’re in an ‘agree to disagree’ stage,” he said Friday after he finished qualifying for Sunday’s STP 400 at Kansas Speedway. “There’s, thankfully, a third panel to settle those disagreements.”
Keselowski was referring to the appeal process that will settle the issue that cropped up before last Saturday’s race at Texas, when he and teammate Joey Logano’s cars were found to have illegal rear-end parts.
Keselowski and Logano were both docked 25 championship points for the infractions, while their respective crew chiefs – Paul Wolfe and Todd Gordon – were fined $100,000, suspended for six races and put on probation until Dec. 31.
Friday was the first time Keselowski spoke extensively about the penalties. He was in a much calmer mood than he was after the Texas race, when he said the way NASCAR was treating his team was “absolutely shameful.”
Although Wolfe will remain with the team through the appeals process, Keselowski said he’s ready to face life without him, as well as car chief Jerry Kelley, team engineer Brian Wilson and team manager Travis Geisler, who also face similar suspensions.
“I think it’s definitely a challenge for us, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing,” said Keselowski, the 2012 Sprint Cup champ who would drop from second to fourth in this season’s standings, pending the appeal. “It’s an opportunity to continue to show how strong of a team Penske Racing can be, and I think there is a lot of passion inside this group. The strong will survive.”
The Penske penalties come a year after Jimmie Johnson’s team was penalized by NASCAR for using illegal C-posts (later overturned on appeal). The outspoken Keselowski hinted later that he thought Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports teams pushed NASCAR’s rules to the limits (and maybe slightly beyond) and were “innovators.”
“As we all know, Brad will say things,” Johnson said Friday. “When you’re in the sport long enough, you learn when you need to be careful. And no team is immune to the issues.”
Keselowski and Logano are dealing with those issues now. Not that Keselowski knows what the issues are.
“I think it’s pretty obvious that defining cheating in this sport is something that’s been very poorly done,” said Keselowski, who qualified 33rd for Sunday’s race. “Clearly, this garage is having a hard time doing that.”
Then, perhaps heeding Johnson’s advice, Keselowski finished with this.
“I think it’s important for the appeals process to work out on its own. Then I’ll save those comments for how that works out. I don’t want to jeopardize the ability to have a clear appeal.”