Whether or not Brad Keselowski was singled out by NASCAR is actually irrelevant, because there is always a difference between reality and whatever the perception of reality is. And in Keselowski’s case, he perceived that he was being picked on and penalized for jumping the restart as an example.
From the beginning, this column has been accused of sucking up to the sanctioning body and not challenging their every move. Let’s get one thing straight, I won’t ever do that. Challenging NASCAR just to challenge them, or because someone else thinks they have a better idea on how to do things is not what this column is about. However, there is definitely room for interpretation regarding Keselowski’s penalty.
Obviously, we don’t know what diagnostics NASCAR was looking at when they made the call but Keselowski was ahead of Greg Biffle’s No. 16 Ford as the two reached the start-finish line. Did Biffle spin his tires? It looked like he did, but he could have also been trying to snooker Keselowski. If so, it worked. Kurt Busch nearly ran over Biffle before they got to the start/finish line, so my money is on the former rather than the latter.
We knew someone had to be the first. Unfortunately for him, Keselowski will go down in the record books for having that distinction. Still, this week’s penalty would have been a lot easier to take had NASCAR called more blatant violations at Richmond International and Chicagoland Speedways.
Keselowski was upset after the race and said some things that will probably not go over well during the Tuesday debrief back in Daytona. In fact, his proclamation that the sport is unfair and focused on entertainment could draw a penalty – a substantial one at that. The rule is you can criticize NASCAR but you can not disparage the product. Keselowski’s words were akin to saying the sport is rigged and that is not a wise thing to say.
“It’s a pretty basic understanding. It’s an entertainment sport, not a fair sport, but we had a great car,” Keselowski said, after the race.
Whether you like Keselowski, or not, he is a former champion whose words carry weight. He also has one of the longest-tenured sponsors in the sport adorning the hood of his car. And then there is the fact that he drives for Roger Penske, who called out the sanctioning body after Matt Kenseth jumped the restart at Richmond. Is it now just a coincidence that he was penalized?
Keselowski thinks NASCAR made an example out of him. He might be right. But at this point, it doesn’t matter. NASCAR made its decision and Keselowski fought back for a 12th-place finish. For his sake, Keselowski should cross his fingers that either Brian France is in a good mood this week or the post-race transcript from Ford gets sent to France’s email spam folder.
Still, it’s hard not to side with Keselowski on this one.