Brad Keselowski offered nothing but respect for NASCAR officials when finally speaking on the L2 penalty to his No. 6 RFK Racing team, revealing it resulted from a repaired tail panel.
“It had a key feature that NASCAR deemed was not repaired adequately enough,” Keselowski said Friday after qualifying at Martinsville Speedway. “It was a tough situation. We didn’t want to run the tail. We didn’t have any new tail panels to put on the car and we had a tail panel with three races on it; We did some repairs to it. We probably could have done a better job on the repair and we put NASCAR in a tough spot.
“It’s kind of a trickle-down effect. I wish we would have, quite frankly, done a better job repairing it. But we can’t go back on it and I understand NASCAR’s position. It’s kind of one of those positions where everybody’s right, and everybody’s wrong at the same time. Ultimately, we’ll have to learn to be better [from] it.”
Keselowski did attend the appeal, which took place Thursday. The former Cup Series champion, who had never participated in an appeal before, was surprised at how professionally it was run. He mostly observed and didn’t speak much. After going through it, Keselowski called it a “fair deal” and said he was glad the process exists.
NASCAR docked the team 100 driver and 100 owner points and suspended Keselowski’s crew chief Matt McCall for four races. McCall has already begun serving the suspension and will miss Martinsville Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway. Keselowski was also docked 10 playoff points.
The infraction was found during a further inspection at the NASCAR R&D Center. Keselowski’s car was taken after the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
“Our intent to appeal the penalty was to show everybody we didn’t want to run that tail panel,” Keselowski said. “If we had a new one, we would have ran [the new one] to begin with. It’s a difficult position. Ultimately, it’s NASCAR’s position that the parts and pieces have to be right. I think we made our repairs in good faith but probably didn’t do a great job.
“Do I think there was a competitive advantage? Probably not. But we put NASCAR in a tough position of having to make a judgment call, and that’s not fair to them. It’s probably one if we could repeat, we would have begged, borrowed, and stole a new tail to put on the car, but that’s the not world we’re living in. I’m glad that’s being fixed.”
RFK Racing has until Tuesday to file a final appeal, but the organization has already stated it will not do so.
“It’s time for us to move on and focus on what we need to win,” Keselowski said. “The rest of it is just noise to us.”
Despite the penalty, Keselowski believes making the playoffs will require a win. He is 31st in the standings going into Saturday night’s race at Martinsville.
“I don’t think you’re going to make the playoffs either way if you don’t win races this year,” Keselowski said. “Not that the penalty doesn’t hurt. Not that it’s not impactful — It is. I don’t think you make the playoffs without winning a race this year.”