News analysis: Brad Keselowski penalty

None of you asked for it, but hop aboard as I break down the massive penalty handed to Brad Keselowski‘s team.

News analysis: Brad Keselowski penalty

The news

NASCAR levied an L2-level penalty on Keselowski’s No. 6 Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing Ford, Thursday, for violations of Sections 14.1 and 14.5 in the NASCAR Rule Book, which covers the modification of a single source supplied part.

NASCAR didn’t disclose what specific part violated the rules, but FOX Sports’ NASCAR writer, Bob Pockrass tweeted the following.

As a result, NASCAR docked Keselowski both 100 driver and owners points, as well as 10 playoff points. It also fined crew chief Matt McCall $100,000 and suspended him for the next four points races.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been updated to include RFK Racing’s announcement.

RFK had three business days (until Monday) to decide whether to appeal or accept the penalty. It announced Friday that it would appeal the decision.

Pockrass tweeted that McCall will sit out this week, and that RFK won’t seek a deferment of his suspension.

News analysis: Brad Keselowski penalty

The significance

On a scale of 1-10, this is an 11.

First, this drops Keselowski from 16th in points to 35th. Compounding that, he’s in a 10-playoff point deficit.

Now it’s early enough in the season where the hole isn’t too deep to escape, as that’s just a two-race deficit, but the performance isn’t there.

Since his strong run at Daytona, he’s hovered around the mid-20s.

Look, Keselowski is an elite driver who’s bound for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, but this isn’t the Roush organization of the 2000s that once put all five of its drivers into the playoffs. This is the Roush that’s won just two races since 2015.

So what started as a borderline Herculean task turned into a greater one.

Realistically, his easiest path to the playoffs is to win at Talladega Superspeedway and Daytona International Speedway. As he’s the active wins leader in restrictor plate races (with seven).

I left out Atlanta Motor Speedway, because he didn’t lead a single lap and ran only 53.5% of the race inside the top-15.

With all things considered, there’s not another track where I’d have confidence in him making up this deficit, because of the RFK factor.

News analysis: Brad Keselowski penalty

Unanswered questions

Two questions remain unanswered.

First, what was RFK Racing thinking?!

They evaded the ire of NASCAR back in Daytona with the wheel nonsense. So why would they tempt fate, again, by doing THIS just a few weeks later?! Did they not think NASCAR might watch them more closely, after Daytona?

Now they’ve put Keselowski in a hole that even an elite NASCAR wheelman like him might not escape.

Speaking of NASCAR, why was this not caught in pre-race inspection, when the league sent Keselowski’s car to the back? If it was, why was the No. 6 car allowed to race, Sunday, in Atlanta?

Do the heads in Daytona expect me to buy that the No. 6 car was illegal enough to warrant this penalty, four days after the race, but legal enough to race on Sunday?

Sorry, NASCAR, but if the car was illegal all this time, then you shouldn’t have let Keselowski’s car start the race.

That’s all for now.

TOP IMAGE: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images