HomeSportsNascarNASCAR: How Brad Keselowski’s Recent Penalty Compares to the Franchise’s Past Biggest Punishments

NASCAR: How Brad Keselowski’s Recent Penalty Compares to the Franchise’s Past Biggest Punishments

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Earlier this week, NASCAR officials set the fandom ablaze when they passed down an incredibly harsh penalty to Brad Keselowski. The unapproved adjustments to his No. 6 Mustang found prior to the race in Atlanta cost Keselowski and his team 100 points and $100,000. In addition, his crew chief, Matt McCall, was suspended from the next four NASCAR Cup Series races.

The points loss caused Brad Keselowski to fall all the way from 16th to 35th position in the overall standings. There’s no question that this is an astonishingly severe penalty. However, while it does make the list of largest punishments in NASCAR history, Keselowski is far from the only driver to ever face such a penalty. And when compared to some of the other record-breaking penalties, Keselowski’s punishment looks downright mild.

NASCAR Punishments Similar to Brad Keselowski Penalty

Throughout the last few decades, NASCAR has only handed down a few penalties to rival that of Brad Keselowski, but some of them are absolutely mind-blowing.

Richard Petty

Let’s start with The King himself, Richard Petty. Because even NASCAR royalty can’t escape the ever-present NASCAR Rule Book. It was 1983 and Richard Petty had just earned the checkered flag in the Miller High Life 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Then came the post-race inspection, though, where things went downhill quickly for the legendary driver.

The car not only had left-side tires installed on the right side but his engine was also 23 cubic inches above regulation size. The illegal adjustments to his car earned Petty a $35,000 fine and a loss of 104 points. Unbelievably, however, he was allowed to keep his win in Charlotte.

Jeff Gordon

Another NASCAR icon, Jeff Gordon, isn’t without a blemish on his record. Following the 1995 Coca-Cola 600, Gordon’s crew chief, Ray Evernham, was slammed with a $60,000 fine. Though this seems rather lenient in comparison to Keselowski’s penalty, it’s important to remember that $60k was a lot more 30 years ago. In fact, it was a record fine at the time.

Jeff Gordon finished 33rd in the Coca-Cola 600, but NASCAR officials were suspicious of his right front wheel after a malfunction early in the race. Sure enough, the post-race inspection revealed that Gordon’s team was “using suspension parts that did not meet NASCAR specifications.”

Michael Waltrip

Though NASCAR driver Michael Waltrip’s penalty isn’t the largest on the list, it is the most infamous in recent memory. In 2007, NASCAR officials discovered that Michael Waltrip Racing was using an illegal fuel additive during Daytona Speedweeks. What sort of illegal fuel? Well, what makes a better story than jet fuel?

That’s right. Michael Waltrip was attempting flight in Daytona, and it cost him big. MWR faced a 100 point penalty, as well as a fine of $100,000. In addition, both crew chief David Hyder and competition director Bobby Kennedy were ejected from the garage entirely. MWR maintained that the “jet fuel” was simply oil…sure it was.

Carl Long

Last but not least is Carl Long, who holds the record for second-highest fine in NASCAR history. In 2009, Long was slapped with an astounding 12-week suspension, fined $200,000, and docked a whopping 200 points.

So, what did he do to incite such incredible wrath from NASCAR officials? Following a practice round at the Sprint Showdown, Carl Long’s car went through an inspection, where the engine was found to be too large by 1/6th of an inch. Needless to say, NASCAR officials give no breathing room when it comes to the Rule Book.