By Dave Skretta
The Associated Press
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Jeff Gordon learned his lesson over time. So did Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth.
It’s the same lesson learned by every young driver who finally achieves stardom: What to say, when and how to say it and, most importantly, how to deal with the fallout from the content.
“You feel like you have more respect,” Gordon said this week, “and you feel like the thoughts that are running through your head, you’d like to get some of those out there.
“There’s still a way to do that,” added the four-time champion, who in 1995 became the youngest Cup champion when he won the first of his four titles at the age of 24. “You just have to sometimes thread the needle on what you are going to gain from it and what you’re going to lose.”
That’s the lesson that Brad Keselowski is being forced to learn.
The brash, outspoken and usually unfiltered Sprint Cup champion has been vocal about what he perceives as unfair treatment by NASCAR, even going on a profanity-tinged tirade last weekend in which he told reporters that they had “no idea ... what’s going on.”
He already disputed a penalty at Martinsville for pitting outside his stall, but the driver of the No. 2 Ford was left seething over harsh penalties handed down by NASCAR this week.
Keselowski and teammate Joey Logano had a combined seven crew members get six-race suspensions after inspectors confiscated an unapproved rear-end housing from the Penske Racing cars last weekend at Texas. Both of their crew chiefs were also fined $100,000, and the drivers were dealt 25-poiint penalties that bumped them down in the Sprint Cup standings.
Penske Racing has appealed the penalties — Keselowski insisted Friday the part in question was approved — so both of the teams are intact for Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway.
“The parts that we had were approved parts — they are concerned that we modified them,” Roger Penske said Saturday from the IndyCar race in Long Beach, Calif. “NASCAR felt what we had provided them for approval then these parts were different during the inspection process.”
No date for Penske’s appeal has been set.
“I don’t think I’ve been surprised by much of anything the last two or three days,” Keselowski said after qualifying 33rd for this weekend’s race. “But I think it’s really important to let the appeals process work out on its own. That’s why it exists.”
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