Brad Keselowski believes NASCAR should be handing out more penalties to send a message to the NASCAR Cup Series garage, and revealed that RFK Racing responded to his L2 penalty earlier this year by communicating across the team that it needed to stop playing games with the race cars.
RFK, which Keselowski co-owns as well as drives for, was slapped with a $100,000, 100-point L2 penalty after Atlanta in April after having been determined to have illegally modified a standardized part. A similar punishment was meted out to Front Row Motorsports for the same infraction last week, while Joe Gibbs Racing had two cars disqualified after finishing first and second at Pocono a fortnight ago, only to fail post-race technical inspection.
“I feel a little bit a sense of relief from the fact that the penalty that was handed out to us at Atlanta was in some form replicated to more than us,” Keselowski said. “I feel like you could probably make arguments that some teams’ penalty could have been adjusted higher or maybe even lower, for sure. But the reality is the garage is going through a reset with respect to cutting out the games, and that’s a good thing for us as a sport.
“I personally think the sport needs more penalties and that NASCAR needs to be handing them out like candy right now to get control of the garage, because we’ve been playing a lot of games for a lot of years. The games have to stop. The games cost a lot of money… and those games come directly at the expense of being able to afford to do things that we’d like to be able to do, or just to be able to afford to race. So, looking at that, the easiest way for NASCAR to stop those expenses is to stop the games.”
Keselowski’s No. 6 Ford Mustang was taken after the Atlanta race for further inspection at the NASCAR R&D Center. It was there that officials found the team had modified a single-sourced supplied part and docked them 100 driver and 100 owner points, in addition to 10 playoff points and a four-week suspension for crew chief Matt McCall. Keselowski later addressed the issue after the team lost its appeal, saying the penalty stemmed from a repaired tail panel.
Last week, NASCAR handed out the same penalty to Front Row Motorsports. Specific details on the Front Row penalty are still unknown, but they were also docked for modifying a single-sourced supplied part. Front Row has dropped its appeal.
NASCAR also disqualified two Joe Gibbs Racing cars, the Nos. 11 and 18, from their top two finishing positions at Pocono for added material to their cars. There was tape found on the front facias of both Toyotas in post-race inspection.
“You look at the aero departments of these companies and engineering departments that are spending tens of millions of dollars to engineer parts and work on, NASCAR has really tightened down on the rules,” Keselowski continued. “And most of those departments that are working so hard on those things are forced to make a choice between doing something that might be illegal or not really having a big role in the success of the race team. Although I love our engineers and want to see them for a long time, we also have to be a viable business, so there are some compromises there that we have to be careful with. As a sport, the easiest way to control the costs is just to dole those penalties out like candy when anybody gets outside the box and we’re playing those games.
“I know after our issues at Atlanta, we went through our entire company and said no more games. Nothing goes on with these cars. Period. And that’s a rapid culture shift, and there’s a lot of people inside our own company that didn’t like it. But the reality is NASCAR is setting precedent that needed to be set that we support being set, that are important to the future of our industry and its viability. I support NASCAR.”
NASCAR officials made it clear to teams coming into the season that there would be stricter penalties associated with the Next Gen car. The rule book was updated to reflect those penalties to include loss of points, playoff points, and suspensions. The biggest penalty includes loss of postseason eligibility and a one-race suspension for the team.