NORMAN — As he chased Joey Logano around Texas Motor Speedway, more than a few people wondered if Brad Keselowski was letting off the gas just a little bit to help his teammate to a win.
A flurry of late activity cleared Keselowski of any potential wrongdoing.
As Logano closed in on the white flag that would have wrapped up the win, a late caution sent the field to pit road. Keselowski was penalized for speeding — he was 0.8 mph over in one of the zones on pit road — and it proved he was doing everything in his power to win Monday’s race.
“I definitely wasn’t (laying back),” Keselowski said. “I was 105 percent, so that’s why got I a speeding penalty. I broke the rule the other way.”
NASCAR last September demanded drivers give 100 percent at all times in a mandate to prevent them from aiding teammates. The penalty Keselowski had to serve contributed to his 15th-place finish, and Logano went on to win his first race of the season.
“We’re in it for wins. We’re not in it for finishing second. Second or 15th is the same to us,” Keselowski said. “I sped and ended up 15th. It had to be really close. If it would have worked out, I might have been able to win the race from it. It’s just part of racing.”
Now no one can accuse Team Penske of playing unfairly, and both drivers have a clear conscious as they prepare for the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. Keselowski got his win at Las Vegas in March, and under NASCAR’s new win-and-you’re-in format, Team Penske should be assured of two spots in the 16-driver Chase field.
“It’s absolutely huge,” Keselowski said. “We haven’t burned any of our team tests, and now that we’ve got both cars in the Chase, we can just burn through those on the Chase tracks. That’s a pretty healthy advantage.”