Defending Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski has calmed down since his post-race rant at Texas, but he’s still not very happy. Keselowski made an appearance at an Olathe Wal-Mart on Thursday, a day after NASCAR heavily penalized the Penske Racing team for rules violations regarding rear end housings that did not pass pre-race inspection Saturday night.
Keselowski was all smiles as he autographed photos and other items, but it was clear the penalties provided extra motivation going into Sunday’s STP 400 at Kansas Speedway.
“Our team operates with a continuous chip on our shoulder, so maybe it’s a little bit bigger," Keselowski said.
NASCAR confiscated the rear-end housings and other parts from the Fords of Keselowski and teammate Joey Logano before the race at Texas. NASCAR on Wednesday announced the drivers’ crew chiefs had been fined $100,000 each and suspended for six races. Five other Penske crew members also were suspended for six races, and the drivers were each docked 25 points each in the standings.
Penske is appealing the penalties, so the suspensions will not go into effect until after the appeal process is complete. But the points deductions remain in force.
“It’s not over yet," said Keselowski, who fell from second to fourth in the Sprint Cup standings as a result of the penalties. “There are still different processes to go through. As of right now, all of our people are at the race track, and it hasn’t affected us.
“This is an opportunity to prove your strength, to prove yourself to those who don’t believe in you. This is a challenging time, and I’m looking at it as an opportunity."
After the race in Texas, where he finished ninth, Keselowski went on a profanity-laced tirade, though NASCAR chairman Brian France said the driver would not be fined for his remarks.
“I probably could have had a calmer tone," Keselowski said. “I was in my seventh stage of acceptance … the angry stage. Now I’m in a lot calmer stage right now."
Keselowski had hinted that he suspected Penske has been targeted by NASCAR or perhaps another race team. Last year, there were no specific rules governing the rear ends or penalties in that area, and it was ambiguous as to what teams could do or not do.
“I feel there are several other teams working in the same area that didn’t have an issue," Keselowski said. “The precedents from last year steered the course from where we got last week. From actions not taken over the period of time beforehand does not make me comfortable about the situation."