After Penske Racing received their penalties on Wednesday, the question was then raised, who ratted them out? One of the first suspects was Jimmie Johnson and Hendrick Motorsports, but Johnson says they did not.
He did say, though, that his group has been watching Brad Keselowski and team, but that comes with success.
“When you have success on your side the magnifying glass the viewpoint for everybody, NASCAR, other teams, it gets a lot more intense,” Johnson said. “The best officiating in the garage area has always been your neighbor. That has just been part of NASCAR for years and years. That is why NASCAR has the procedures in place that they do in the garage area and why even in F1 today they are not allowed to cover their stuff anymore. It’s just part of it.”
Last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, Penske Racing was found in violation of NASCAR’s rear-end suspension policy. As per the report on SPEED during NASCAR Raceday, NASCAR did not approve of the way both Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano’s rear-ends were bolted in. Reports since have stated that the rear-end housings were attached in a fashion that they might shift the rear-ends of the cars into yaw during competition.
Well this was something was allowed last year with the previous car, NASCAR wrote a new rule in the rulebook this year to prevent teams from doing that with the Generation Six car.
Section 20-12 of the rulebook states, “All front end and rear end suspension mounts with mounting hardware assembled must have single round mounting holes that are the correct size for the fastener being used. All front end and rear end suspension mounts and mounting hardware must not allow movement or realignment of any suspension component beyond normal rotation or suspension travel.”
As a result, both the No. 2 and No. 22 teams were assessed multiple penalties, including a six week suspension for both crew chiefs, both car chiefs and both team engineers. Penske is appealing the penalties.
“I don’t think I’ve been surprised by much of anything in the last two or three days, but I think it’s really important to allow the appeal process to work its way out on its own,” Keselowski commented on the penalties. “That’s why it exists. I’m thankful that there is a process for appeals because, obviously, we’re in an ‘agree to disagree’ stage between Penske Racing and NASCAR, and there’s, thankfully, a third panel or group to settle those disagreements.”
Johnson went on to say that when you notice something, you have two decisions in what you can do about it.
“One, they go home and try to adapt it to their car and understand it and see if they can make it work or they go in the truck and say something,” Johnson said. “We don’t say something. We are a company built on performance. We are a company that tries to understand the rulebook as close as we can to the law.”
Johnson says that sometimes they do push those boundaries, as noted in previous penalties assessed to the No. 48 team, however that’s part of racing and has been since day one.
“We go in there and we try to be as smart as we can and conform to the rules and put the best race car on the track,” he said. “With all that being said, no, sure there was a lot of activity around the Penske cars during the test day, just like all the other cars and everybody is watching, everybody is looking, but in no way shape or form did anybody from the No. 48 car walk into that truck and say anything.”
Johnson also added that he has been “very impressed with the No. 2 cars staff and their ability to have somebody just stand and watch other teams.”
The fingers were pointed towards the No. 48 team in being the one to rat out Penske due to comments that Keselowski made last year about Hendrick Motorsports.
Following a race at Michigan International Speedway, Brad Keselowski made some choice comments about the rear suspension of the Hendrick Motorsports cars. Keselowski said that his team hadn’t tried to change rear-end setups because “there’s a question to the interpretation that as of right now it’s legal. We have not felt comfortable enough to risk that name and reputation that (team owner) Roger (Penske) has over those parts and pieces. Others have, which is their prerogative. I’m not going to slam them for it. But it’s living in a gray area.”
“Obviously, I don’t think there’s anyone out there who doesn’t believe the Hendrick cars were one of those groups, but I respect them and their ability to do those things and be innovators accordingly,” he added that. “So it’s our challenge to find that little bit of speed and have that true understanding of all the rules that it entails in that particular department, and that’s something that we’re watching. That’s what my comments were meant to say.”
He also said that Penske Racing doesn’t want to work in those gray areas, at that time.
“Brad is a huge talent,” Johnson commented. “But as we all know, Brad will say things. And when you’re in the sport long enough, you learn when you need to be careful. And no team is immune to the issues. I don’t want the crew chief’s job. Those guys live on the ragged edge and they have to. If not, they’re going to run 20th every week. So, I think over time, I’ve learned and have also clearly experienced some issues where man, you just do your thing and there’s no need to spout off what other people are up to. I think there have been a few lessons that Brad has learned along the way this year as to when to say something.”