KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Brad Keselowski arrived at Kansas Speedway with the specter of NASCAR sanctions hanging over Penske Racing, and the first few laps of Sunday’s race weren’t going a whole lot better.
He sustained some damage when he got bumped early on, and then lost a lap when he failed to get out of the pits quickly enough. And by the time the final laps were ticking away, the sheet metal on the rear of the car had finally come loose, flapping like tinfoil in a 200 mph breeze.
Through all the adversity, though, Keselowski persevered.
After the back bumper sheared off, he came in for a late pit stop that allowed the crew of his No. 2 Ford to patch things up. Keselowski charged back onto the track, and then through the field, roaring to a sixth-place finish that made him feel as if he’d won the race.
“Usually you’re not happy unless you win,” Keselowski admitted, “but you know, a day where you can fight through adversity like we did and get a solid finish, that’s kind of is a win, yes.”
Especially given everything the Penske team has gone through.
“It’s been a long week,” Keselowski said, “but you know what? We’re not giving up.”
Nor should they be. The defending Sprint Cup champions are sitting third in points, trailing only Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne as the series shifts to Richmond next weekend.
But things could be getting a lot more difficult.
Penske Racing was dealt severe sanctions by NASCAR after inspectors found unapproved parts under the cars of Keselowski and teammate Joey Logano two weeks ago at Texas. Among the punishments were six-race suspensions for seven members of the two teams, probation through the end of the year, $100,000 fines for each crew chief and 25-point penalties for each of the drivers.