To say that NASCAR has faced some criticism in the past for being inconsistent on issuing penalties would be an understatement. Seemingly similar incidents would get completely different penalties, and would sometimes be completely over turned by NASCAR’s own appellate staff. Even with the introduction of the new penalty system, the different levels assessed didn’t address behavioral issues.
We’ve seen several different physical altercations this year and the penalties have varied. However, in my opinion, NASCAR got this one right.
I understand why they had to penalize Brad Keselowski and Tony Stewart after the Charlotte incident considering that they endangered other people, but I really hoped that neither Keselowski nor Jeff Gordon would get penalized for their involvement in last weekend’s post-race brawl on pit road. After all, NASCAR as much as admitted at the beginning of the season that this new Chase system would create a tenser atmosphere and lead drivers to do and say things that are out of character or altogether unacceptable.
As such, I was delighted that NASCAR decided not to penalize either driver for fighting, and instead decided on a select few crew members for actions that NASCAR deemed to be unacceptable. The penalties were extended to the crew chiefs responsible for those crew members as well. I think it’s fair enough if crew members stepped over the line, though the videos make it tough to tell who specifically is being targeted.
You might be wondering why I’m not including Kevin Harvick among those I hoped not to see penalized. Frankly, I thought the Harvick move was childish and unnecessary. How can crew members get penalized for pummeling each other for defending their driver and fellow crew members, yet Harvick gets away scot-free for essentially inciting the brawl when he otherwise had nothing to do with it? I understand that certain crew members were already pushing and shoving, but the real issue didn’t start until Harvick got involved, and that certainly wasn’t ok. It wasn’t his place to get involved, he had no right to, and NASCAR should have reacted to that.
Additionally, it seems like we are constantly talking about Keselowski, and not in the “he’s-the-favorite-to-win-this-championship” way that I thought we would be. In fact, this discussion surrounding the driver of the No. 2 car seems to be more about the drivers he is angering than his accomplishments on the racetrack. While I didn’t agree with what happened at Charlotte (using one’s car as a weapon is never ok with me), I don’t think Keselowski was wrong to take advantage of an opening on the racetrack to try and go for the win. What choice did he have exactly?
Could it have been done a little cleaner? Yes, of course, but playing it conservative is going to lose him this championship, and that’s if he makes it to the next round at all. Unless he wins next week, he’s not going to. In fact, there are several drivers who will likely have it in their best interests to make sure that he doesn’t advance.
I personally enjoy Keselowski’s driving style and love watching a driver who is willing to do whatever it takes to get to Victory Lane. But Kyle Busch has gone through this phase many times and, as Denny Hamlin said, it’s going to be very difficult for Keselowski to win this championship when he has so many enemies.
I think that about covers it. All this, and there are still two races left.
Now onto the mailbox:
“I recently attended the Sprint Cup race at Chicago and admittedly it’s been awhile. The noise from the cars approach deafening. No longer a deep throated roar but rather an irritating scream that is most definitely damaging the fans hearing. I found myself watching the infield TV to keep up with the race as the announcer (if there was one) couldn’t be heard. I couldn’t even talk to my friend seated next to me without screaming in his ear.” Jerry
I don’t understand. You’re complaining because the cars are too loud at the racetrack? This was a surprise to you?
I read somewhere that they now have scanners at the track (or somewhere) that have microphones attached so you can talk to the person you are sitting with without having to scream at them. I don’t know who has them and wasn’t able to find anything definitive online, but I’ve seen other fans talking about it. So maybe that’s an option?
Honestly, though, I don’t get this complaint. I think it’s pretty obvious what you are signing up for when you go to a race is that, once the race starts, you can barely hear yourself think, let alone the person sitting next to you. That’s why it’s a good idea to rent a scanner in the first place. At most tracks, you can barely hear the PA at all. Only on the big tracks can you ever hear it, and that’s generally only for a few seconds when the cars are on the other side of the track.
Seriously, of all the complaints I get/see/hear/read, this one seems like a no-brainer. Unless NASCAR starts fielding hybrids—and I think we can all agree that would be a horrible idea—that’s just the way it’s going to be.
“How does Roger Penske feel about all of this? He has to get sick of having to answer for his driver, especially since Brad brings a lot of him on himself.” Charles
Actually, Roger Penske has been rather supportive of Keselowski and that includes the incident at Texas. In a statement earlier this week, Penske said, “Brad Keselowski is a champion who competes to win in every race, which is what I expect of him. While the actions by others following the race in Texas were unfortunate, Brad has my 100 percent support as we now move on to Phoenix for the next stage of the NASCAR championship.”
In other words, Penske doesn’t think Keselowski did anything wrong and is fully on board with Keselowski’s driving style. That’s good for Keselowski because I doubt he is going to change his style anytime soon. He’s been grabbed, shoved, and punched several times over the course of the past couple of months. Clearly, he remains unconcerned.
This isn’t exactly the first time Penske has had to deal with troublesome drivers. Rusty Wallace, not one of the most popular drivers in the garage area in his time as a driver, drove for Penske. A no-holds-barred driving style is not something that Penske shies away from. In fact, if past history shows true, he kind of prefers it.
So don’t think Keselowski is going to be gone from this team anytime soon because his team owner is sick of dealing with him. On the contrary … he’s loving every minute of it!
“I don’t quite get how NASCAR decides penalties. If Harvick or Gordon or Hamlin or Kenseth and whoever else has a target on Keselowski’s back wrecks him intentionally at Phoenix, do we expect penalties? NASCAR doesn’t really seem to take away points anymore, but I can’t help but think it’s a possibility.” Lisa
NASCAR hasn’t specifically said they aren’t taking points away, but I agree they seem to be reluctant to do so for whatever reason. Whether that’s the Chase or not, I don’t know, but it sure seems that way.
However, recent memory seems to show that they deal with on-track penalties based on the severity of the accident. For instance, when Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski had their constant spat a few years back, NASCAR issued severe penalties against the both of them, but that seemed to be because many of the wrecks were rather awful (Keselowski flipping at Atlanta, spinning into oncoming traffic at Gateway, etc.).
Yet when Denny Hamlin spun out Keselowski in a Nationwide Series race around that same time, there was no penalty and I would imagine that’s because
Keselowski didn’t hit anything and the wreck wasn’t really a big deal—points-wise or wreck-wise.
I know these incidents are from several years back, but that seems to be the case even today. When Kyle Busch spun out Ron Hornaday in 2011, that was treated as severe and Busch was parked for it.
Basically, NASCAR assesses the situation and assesses penalties as they see fit. The more impactful the situation is or the worse the wreck is, the more harshly NASCAR tends to respond. I’m sure we can pull up some instances where that wasn’t the case, but history shows that is generally how NASCAR rules in these situations.
I would imagine, then, that if any driver with an apparent vendetta against Keselowski wrecks him at Phoenix, thereby ending his championship chances, they would be penalized. With that being said, what do they care? Like you said, NASCAR hasn’t been taking points away and several of them are already out of the championship hunt anyway. And NASCAR isn’t going to give Keselowski a Chase spot because he might have won had a certain other driver not wrecked him.
Honestly, I think Keselowski is really in trouble. I’m not trying to hype up another fight because everyone will have their own title hopes in mind come Phoenix, but if certain drivers find themselves in a desperate situation, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them try something like this.
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