NASCAR driver and RFK Racing co-owner Brad Keselowski wants to move forward after receiving heavy penalties for modifying his NextGen car. NASCAR made an example out of his No. 6 team earlier this week with a set of severe L2-level penalties: 100 Cup Series points, 10 playoff points, $100,000 fines, and a four-race suspension for his crew chief.
Keseloski, 38, seemed level-headed about the season’s first major punishment under the new NextGen rules.
“I guess I don’t think that way. I don’t think in terms of surprised or not surprised,” he told NASCAR.com. “Just try to move forward here.”
On the eve of Sunday’s EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix (a 3.41-mile road course), the unprecedented L2-level penalties were the talk of the garage. NASCAR’s Research & Development Center in Concord, N.C., handed down the fines and suspension after a thorough examination. Brad Keselowski and his team said they intend to appeal the penalties.
In January, NASCAR announced a series of new deterrence rules to try to prevent modifications to the Next Gen cars. RFK Racing avoided the steepest level of penalties, L3, which can include complete removal from postseason racing. Other drivers around the circuit certainly took notice of the rulings, though.
“I’m pretty sure it scares the hell out everyone, which is probably [the reason for] some of the attention,” said Joey Logano, Keselowski’s former teammate at Team Penske. “NASCAR just said they’re gonna put the foot down. That’s like I was saying earlier, we don’t know what it was and what happened; but we do know the penalty was huge. So, I don’t know, but we know you probably shouldn’t screw around.”
Keselowski will appeal the penalties, but the team will honor the crew chief suspension for Sunday’s race
The penalties knocked Brad Keselowski’s No. 6 team from 16th to 35th in the Cup Series standings, placing it last among full-time teams. Chris Buescher, Keselowski’s teammate in the No. 17 Ford, said his job doesn’t really change amidst the team issues.
“We put pressure on ourselves every week, putting in our full effort every week. Nothing really changes,” said Buescher. “We talked about that a lot. We’re here to put in everything we can to try to win every week. The reality is that wins get you in the playoffs, and [if] can be in contention to win consistently, the rest will come with it.”
A three-member group from the National Motorsports Appeals Panel will hear the team’s case for a revision of punishment. In the meantime, RFK Racing could have postponed crew chief Matt McCall’s four-race suspension pending the appeal; but the team listed Josh Sell as chief on the team’s roster for this Sunday’s race. Keselowski indicated that their move was not an admission of guilt.
“I’m not sure I have an answer for that other than we had committed to Josh Sell being the crew chief before the appeal was founded,” Keselowski said, “so we’re going to stick with that plan.”