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Penalties leave Keselowski irked

  • Kansas City Star
  • Published Thursday, April 18, 2013, at 9:57 p.m.

— Defending Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski has calmed down since his post-race rant at Texas, but he’s still not very happy.

Keselowski made an appearance at an Olathe Wal-Mart on Thursday, a day after NASCAR heavily penalized the Penske Racing team for rules violations regarding rear end housings that did not pass pre-race inspection last Saturday night.

Keselowski was all smiles as he autographed photos and other items, but it was clear the penalties provided extra motivation going into Sunday’s STP 400 at Kansas Speedway.

“Our team operates with a continuous chip on our shoulder, so maybe it’s a little bit bigger,” Keselowski said.

NASCAR confiscated the rear-end housings and other parts from the Fords of Keselowski and teammate Joey Logano before the race at Texas. NASCAR on Wednesday announced the drivers’ crew chiefs had been fined $100,000 each and suspended for six races. Five other Penske crew members also were suspended for six races, and the drivers were each docked 25 points each in the standings.

Penske is appealing the penalties, so the suspensions will not go into effect until after the appeal process is complete. But the points deductions remain in force.

“It’s not over yet,” said Keselowski, who fell from second to fourth in the Sprint Cup standings as a result of the penalties. “There are still different processes to go through. As of right now, all of our people are at the race track, and it hasn’t affected us.

“This is an opportunity to prove your strength, to prove yourself to those who don’t believe in you. This is a challenging time, and I’m looking at it as an opportunity.”

After the race in Texas, where he finished ninth, Keselowski went on a profanity-laced tirade, though NASCAR chairman Brian France said the driver would not be fined for his remarks.

“I probably could have had a calmer tone,” Keselowski said. “I was in my seventh stage of acceptance … the angry stage. Now I’m in a lot calmer stage right now.”

Keselowski had hinted that he suspected Penske has been targeted by NASCAR or perhaps another race team. Last year, there were no specific rules governing the rear ends or penalties in that area, and it was ambiguous as to what teams could do or not do.

Waltrip cars to honor Boston — As the only Sprint Cup driver or car owner to have run the Boston Marathon, Michael Waltrip will honor the victims of the marathon tragedy by using special door numbers on his three entries in Sunday’s race .

The door numbers on Clint Bowyer’s No. 15, Mark Martin’s No. 55 and Martin Truex Jr.’s No. 56 Toyota Camrys will replicate the 2013 Boston Marathon runner “bib” numbers, which are pinned on each of the nearly 30,000 runners. Waltrip posted a time of 4 hours, 33 minutes in the 2000 event.

“The news coming out of Boston this week was very personal to me,” Waltrip said. “When I ran the Boston Marathon in 2000, I remember thinking about what a privilege it was to be able to participate and all the hard work it took to be there. When you can see those international flags flying in Copley Square, you know you are about to complete your journey. I know the joy those runners were feeling at that moment when their worlds changed.

“It was a great moment of pride when they pinned the Boston Marathon bib on me, so I thought it would be great to pin bib numbers on our race cars this week in Kansas.… We just want the victims of the attack, the brave men and women who helped after the explosions and the city of Boston to know that we are thinking of them and we will support them any way we can.”

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