Most of the activity was focused on the Penske Racing Fords of Brad Keselowski (No. 2) and Logano (No. 22).
Paul Wolfe, crew chief for the No. 2 Penske Racing Ford of Brad Keselowski, and Todd Gordon, crew chief of Logano’s No. 22, were each fined $100,000, suspended for six races and placed on probation until Dec. 31. In addition, both teams’ car chiefs; Jerry Kelly (No. 2) and Raymond Fox (No. 22), the team’s engineers Brian Wilson (No. 2) and Samuel Stanley (No. 22), along with team manager Travis Geisler, have also been suspended for six races and placed on probation until Dec. 31.
Both Keselowski and Logano lost 25 driver championship points, while Roger Penske (Keselowski) and Walt Czarnecki (Logano) each lost 25 owner championship points as well.
Co-hosts Steve Byrnes and Danielle Trotta grabbed these reactions.
Jeff Hammond, NASCAR on FOX/SPEED Analyst
Danielle Trotta: Do you feel the punishment fits the crime?
Jeff Hammond: Unfortunately, I do. You have to believe right now, after what we have seen with NASCAR in the past, when it comes to these new cars and the Gen 6, they are making a statement. They want everybody to know, that they aren’t supposed to mess with these areas. They basically threw the book at the Penske organization. I’m not really surprised about it.
Trotta: Why are these penalties so severe?
Hammond: NASCAR no longer has any gray areas. Years past, you used to work in the gray area. Now everything is black and white. When you look at the rule, and look at what these guys broke, something as simple as introducing these pieces to NASCAR for their approval prior to this, that’s a big thing. You know good and well, that’s not what NASCAR is all about. You have to get their approval, a lot of the time, to run something. On top of that, they had taken holes and instead of being round, they were oblong. You can’t do that.
Steve Byrnes: Teams were spending, from what I heard, millions of dollars to accomplish that. NASCAR said, ‘We’re not doing that anymore.’ So what was the performance advantage to achieving skew?
Hammond: You’re trying to maximize the new Gen 6 car body. With how it’s made, it has a lot of side force to it. It has a lot of down force to it. When you skew it out, like teams were doing in 2012, you just make it that much more effective. Even two-tenths of a degree, if that’s what they were trying to accomplish, allows this car to now get more side force going into the corner, more stability exiting the corner. And, you can now mess with the rear springs if you want to, to soften the back of the car up, which will reduce the drag and make better straightaway speeds, yet, not give up that side grip which is so important to so many drivers.
Byrnes: They can still come to the track through the appeals process…
Hammond: That’s the only thing they can do. With the length and the depth of these penalties it’s a real hit. Travis Geisler, he would have been logical to put on one of these cars. As a driver and former crew chief, he would have been a nice choice to move up there and fill that slot from this void that they are going to have to go through. Now that they’ve cut so deep, getting to engineers, not that they aren’t going to be a part of the team, they’ll be at the shop, they’ll be working with the organization, but they won’t be as effective long range as they are at the race track.
It’s just what it’s all about. I think NASCAR’s intent is very clear to me; they do not want you challenging, or going against the rulebook. I think this is something they really feel like Penske has done. Not that they’ve ever done it in the past, we know that there’s been a lot of other organizations – Hendrick, Roush-Fenway, Childress, you name them – all (have) broken rules as far as the rulebook is concerned. This is the first time I can remember Penske in a situation like this.
NASCAR Race Hub also talked with Joey Logano…
Steve Byrnes: Will these fines and penalties be a distraction for what’s been a great start?
Joey Logano: No, not at all. We can definitely move ahead. We are ready for that and obviously we have talked a lot about it. Penske Racing has a lot of depth inside the company, and we can make adjustments to make sure we still run well. I think it goes to show, we made some adjustments before the race started and we still were able to come home with a top-five finish. Brad (Keselowski) finished in eighth with a car that was even better than eighth, so were proud of that effort in Texas and especially, after all of the adversity there. I think it says a lot about our company.
Byrnes: Are you surprised that you guys have been able to run as well as you have, given the fact that you’ve come over from an organization to a brand new one?
Logano: No. At least I go in there expecting it. I work hard to expect that. We’ve done all the work, and we’ve done everything we can do to go out there and win these races. You expect to run well. Now, if you don’t do all of that, it’s easy to expect to run really bad. I feel like we’ve put in the work. We’ve put in the time, and the results are coming.
Byrnes: Tony Stewart was so mad he accused you of blocking there with 11 laps to go in California. But the other side of it is, Darrell Waltrip was saying you were doing what you had to do to win a race. How do you balance that out when you’re looking at a potential checkered flag?
Logano: I think you said it right there, 11 laps to go. I think that was the big thing in my mind to know that we were about to win this thing and I needed to stay up front. You see that every week. It’s not like it’s a move that doesn’t happen. You go to Texas, re-watch that race; there’s a lot of blocking in that race too. It’s part of our sport and its part of what makes NASCAR exciting. You know when you see those moves like that, people being aggressive, definitely at the end of the race is when you see it. There’s always a time and a place for it. I think early in the race, there’s no need for it, but later in the race, every position means so much – especially on restarts. You can gain or lose so (many) spots. You see that aggressive driving style out there from everyone in NASCAR.
Byrnes: Respect is a word that’s thrown around a lot in the Cup garage – and all of NASCAR for that matter. Do you feel like you have that from the other competitors? And, do you feel it’s necessary for you to win a race?
Logano: It’s always necessary to win a race. Sure, we always want to do that. I do feel like that respect has been growing over the last five years. Obviously, the more you are up there, running up front, the more top-five’s that you get, the respect grows a lot quicker. I feel like we are doing that this year.
Byrnes: As well as you ran Saturday night in Texas, does that give you more confidence heading to Kansas Speedway this weekend?
Logano: I feel like our bigger race track; California we were fast, Vegas we were fast and obviously Texas last week, after all of the adversity, to finish in the top-five shows that we have a lot of speed in these cars on the bigger race tracks. Kansas is, obviously, another really fast race track and that does bring confident into our whole race team. We have to ride that momentum that we built up over last weekend.
Byrnes: What impact had Brad Keselowski had on your transition from Joe Gibbs Racing to Penske Racing?
Logano: A lot. For me, I’m always looking at seeing what other people are doing, trying to take something here, take something there that I can learn from, and try to put it together. I think Brad is an amazing talent and I think he’s a great leader. Just learning a lot of things from him; how he handles situations. You take the goo. You take the bad and try to decipher what you want to be. I learned a lot from him and that’s a great teammate to have. He’s definitely very open about what he’s doing inside the car. (Keselowski’s Crew Chief) Paul Wolfe is very open to us, and we’re the same back to them, trying to give our notes back and build Penske Racing as one team. A better team and I feel like we are accomplishing that right now.