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Keselowski lashes out at NASCAR's treatment of Penske

15 April 2013

A fuming Brad Keselowski didn't hold back when asked for his comments on the controversial pre-race set-back experienced by Penske Racing ahead of Saturday evening's NRA 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Both Keselowski's #2 and team mate Joey Logano's #22 cars failed pre-race technical inspection with NASCAR officials deeming the rear end housing to be illegal. They demanded the removal of the parts and then confiscated them, while the Penske team rushed to organise replacement components in time for the start of the race.

Keselowski's crew just made it in time, but Logano's car needed three passes before inspection before it was cleared and was then deemed to be too late getting to the starting grid. That forced Logano to drop to the back of the field before the green flag. Despite the setback he still drove back to finish in fifth position, while Keselowski also managed a top ten finish in ninth.

But despite the rather successful damage limitation exercise, Keselowski remained incensed by the way that the NASCAR officials handled the situation, leading the 29-year-old from Michigan to let rip with venomous criticism of the entire series management.

"The things I've seen over the last seven days have me questioning everything that I believe in, and I'm not happy about it. I don't have anything positive to say and I probably should just leave it at that," he said. Unfortunately for the driver, he kept on going.

"I feel like we've been targeted over the last seven days more than I've ever seen a team targeted," he continued. "But my guys kept their heads on straight and they showcased why they are a winning team and championship team. We're not going to take it. We're not going to be treated this way.

"There's so much stuff going on," he said. "You have no [expletive] idea what's going on," he told reporters. "And that's not your fault and that's not a slam on you. I could tell you there's nobody, no team in this garage with the integrity of the #2 team. And the way we've been treated over the last seven days is absolutely shameful."

One of the possible sanctions that the Penske team faces for the illegal rear-end components is the suspension of key members of the crew, with Keselowski particularly concerned that his entire 2013 Cup season is at risk if that happens.

"I'm very worried about losing my crew chief, Paul Wolfe," Keselowski admitted. "But I tell you I've got one of best owners in the garage and I'm going to be first one at his desk telling him if anything happens. We'll both be in a meeting with anybody and everybody who'll listen."

Keselowski's car owner is Roger Penske, who also competes in the IZOD IndyCar Series with a team fielding drivers Will Power, Helio Castroneves and AJ Allmendinger.

"There's been so much stuff going on, I could make a list two pages long, but I'm out," Keselowski continued to rage. "I have one good thing to say, and that's my team and the effort they put in today to fight back with the absolute [expletive] that's been the last seven days in the garage area."

Keselowski is likely to be in serious hot water with the officiating body for his comments, considering that Denny Hamlin received a stiff fine for uttering even the mildest of criticisms about the performance of the new Generation-6 car.

Keselowski himself has also been fined $25,000 last November for carrying a mobile phone in the car at Phoenix, which he was using to keep in touch with fans via Twitter. However, NASCAR rules forbid the carrying of any device in the car that can be used to circumvent the official team radio communications system.

NASCAR also indicated its displeasure with some comments Keselowski made to USA Today before the start of the 2013 season in which he critiqued the current state of the competition. In that case, the driver was invited to the NASCAR hauler and 're-educated in the error of his view' by officials with no fine or sanction known to be imposed.

But any official response from NASCAR over Keselowski's latest outburst is likely to wait until Wednesday, as NASCAR will not want it to overshadow Tuesday's trip by Keselowski and his Cup team to the White House to be honoured by President Barack Obama for their achievement in winning the 2012 championship.

The runner-up in Saturday's Cup race, Martin Truex Jr., may also be in line post-race penalties this week after his car was found to be below the minimum front ride height after the race. And Ron Hornaday Jr. faces possible points deductions after seemingly intentionally wrecking a competitor under a caution period in the Sunday afternoon Truck Series race at Rockingham Speedway.

Texas death was suicide, say authorities

A man found shot dead in a pickup truck in the infield of Texas Motor Speedway this weekend died by his own hand during Saturday evening's Sprint Cup race, medical authorities reported on Monday.

The deceased was among NASCAR fans camping at the speedway for this weekend's Cup and Nationwide races. The Tarrant County medical examiner's office named the deceased man as 42-year-old Kirk Franklin of Saginaw and said that the gunshot wound had been a "self-inflicted injury" sustained after he'd been involved in an argument with other campers at the site.

Police said that several people witnessed the incident, which appeared to involve alcohol, but that no one else was put at risk. Texas law prohibits firearms from being brought in to the track by fans.

Authorities were keen to play down the tragic incident as the Cup race title sponsor was the NRA (National Rifle Association) and there had been considerable opposition to the gun-supporting organisation being such a high-profile backer of a sporting event so soon after the mass shooting of 26 schoolchildren and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

“It would be imprudent for NASCAR to step into such a heated political debate and take sides in this debate by allowing the NRA the title role in the race,” one senator said in March.

A NASCAR spokesman responded this weekend that the series had “no official position on the gun rights debate," adding: "As a sport, we are in the business of bringing people together for entertainment, not political debate."

As part of the post-race celebrations at Texas, the race winner - Kyle Busch - shot two twin trophy six-shooters loaded with blanks into the air.


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