Brad Keselowski knows what it’s like to get hit with serious penalties. Back in March at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Keselowski and his No. 6 team at RFK Racing were dinged big time after NASCAR officials discovered that the team had modified a single-source supplied part for the Next Gen car. As a result, Keselowski was docked 100 driver points and 10 playoff points, while RFK Racing was docked 100 owner points. Matt McCall, Keselowski’s crew chief, was also suspended for four Cup Series races and fined $100,000.
You would think that Keselowski would be bitter towards the sanctioning body’s strictness, particularly since the 100-point penalty dropped him from 16th in the Cup standing all the way to 35th. But, in an interview Tuesday, the 2012 Cup champ argued that NASCAR should actually be dishing out more penalties to avoid costly corner-cutting, which Keselowski says have been going on in NASCAR for a long time. To no one’s surprise.
“I feel a little bit a sense of relief in the fact 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’ penalties 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, you know, kind of cutting out the games and that’s a good thing for us as a sport. I personally think the sport needs more penalties and NASCAR should be handing them out like candy right now to get control of the garage.”
“We’ve been playing a lot of games for a lot of years and the games have to stop. The games cost a lot of money. Those games come directly at the expense of being able to afford to do things that we’ve like to be able to do or just to be able to afford to be able to race.”
While most NASCAR fans have probably since forgotten about Keselowski’s costly penalty at Atlanta, the disqualifications of Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch at Pocono over illegal front fascia modifications are still fresh in everyone’s minds. A couple days after the Pocono race, Front Row Motorsports driver Michael McDowell was also slapped with the same infraction and incurred the same penalties as Keselowski and his team at Atlanta, which Keselowski alluded to in his comments.
Ultimately, Keselowski thinks that NASCAR holding teams accountable by strictly enforcing the rules will actually help teams to cut expenses and remain profitable.
“You look at the aero departments in these companies and you look at the engineering departments in these companies that are spending tens of millions of dollars to engineer parts and work on them,” Keselowski continued.
“NASCAR’s really tightened down the rules and most of those departments that were working so hard on those things are forced to make a choice (now) between doing something that might be illegal or them not having a big role in the success of the race team.”
“Although I love our engineers and I want to see them for a long time, we also have to be a viable business.”
Whether you agree or disagree with Keselowski, there’s no denying his expertise. Aside from his decade-and-a-half tenure in NASCAR, the 38-year-old Rochester Hills, Michigan native is the owner and founder of Keselowski Advanced Manufacturing, a manufacturing solutions company based in Statesville, North Carolina. So, probably better than most, he understands the business of NASCAR as it relates to the development of the Next Gen car and the dozens of outside suppliers that are utilized during that process.
It may not be as exciting as watching as a photo-finish on race day, but understanding the ins and outs of NASCAR from a manufacturing and business perspective is definitely important as the sport moves towards the future.