Brad Keselowski explains why points penalty matters

Brad Keselowski discussed his 35-point penalty and the loss of his crew chief Paul Wolfe for three races stemming from infractions during post-race inspection at Phoenix Raceway.

Brad Keselowski explains why points penalty matters
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford
Paul Wolfe, Crew chief of Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford
Start: Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford, Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing Toyota lead
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford, affixes the winners decal to his car in Victory Lane after winning
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning

NASCAR penalized Keselowski and team owner Roger Penske 35-points each after the No. 2 Team Penske Ford failed weights and measures following Sunday’s Monster Energy Cup race.

Wolfe was fined $65,000 and suspended from the next three Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points events. Xfinity Series crew chief Brian Wilson will be filling in for Wolfe.

“My crew chief, Paul Wolfe, is an elite crew chief,” Keselowski said on FOX Sports Race Hub Wednesday. “I feel really lucky to have him. He’s one of those guys who wins races every year and he has great cars and great speed.  If you look through NASCAR’s loop data, which is a fancy term for a bunch of numbers, we’re leading in a lot of categories, and one of them is speed. Speed in the car. A large part of the credit of that goes to Paul Wolfe and his leadership for our team. To lose a guy like that, it definitely hurts.  

“He’s a great asset to our team, but this is one of those setbacks that I think every team faces and we’re just going to have to get through it. It looks like it’s going to be a handful of races and we’ll do the best we can during that time. The good thing about Brian Wilson is he comes from the XFINITY side as a crew chief who just won with Joey Logano at Las Vegas. But even before that, he was on the 2 team as the lead engineer, so a lot of knowledge and experience, and we look forward to working together with him.”

New rules heighten the importance of points

Keselowski’s fifth-place finish in the Camping World 500 is now deemed encumbered. And the loss of 35-driver points will knock him from second in the standings, six points behind Kyle Larson, to fourth-place behind Martin Truex Jr. With his win at Atlanta, Keselowski should be a lock in the Chase. 

“I think it’s real important to explain why points matter this year,” Keselowski said. “Last year, you got a win and you locked in and you got to the next round. This year with points, you still lock in with wins. The difference is there’s a huge points bonus for having the most points at the end of the season that carries all the way through the playoffs, and you only get that bonus if you’re one of the best cars and leading up front at the end of the regular season, which requires having a lot of points.  

“Thirty-five points is a pretty big deal, and so is 10 points for Kevin (Harvick) and his team.”

Harvick and the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team was also penalized for non-approved track bar slider assembly. Crew chief Rodney Childers will miss this weekend’s race at Auto Club Speedway and was fined $25,000.

With the exception of a failed hub at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which likely cost Keselowski a second win after earning the pole and leading 89 of 267 laps, the No. 2 Team Penske crew have enjoyed a solid season. Keselowski’s average qualifying effort of 4.8 leads the Cup tour.

Looking ahead

At the time of Keselowski’s interview, he said his team yet to develop a game plan for this weekend.

“One of the biggest things on this topic is we ran all the same parts on the car at Phoenix that we had run at all the other races, even the one we won at Atlanta,” Keselowski said. “And all those parts were good and they passed inspection pre- and post-race. So, there’s a lot of questions for our team, like we don’t understand exactly what happened, and you saw that with the statement that Team Penske released.  

“So, we’ve still got to figure out what happened and that’s probably the most concerning thing because we feel like we built a car that was legal. It passed pre-race inspection. We don’t want it to happen again, and we don’t understand what happened. So right now, that’s the most concerning thing – trying to figure out, because honestly, we don’t know.”

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