Last-minute scramble sends Logano to back as he fails to get to grid on time
Post-race reaction: Keselowski, Penske
FORT WORTH, Texas -- As driver introductions wound down at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday evening, two cars remained in the garage area because NASCAR had confiscated some of their parts.
The Penske Racing teams of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano face potential penalties in the coming week after parts of the vehicles’ rear-end housings were taken in pre-race inspection. The late inspection hang-up prompted a rush to get the cars through inspection before the race started, and Logano had to move to the rear of the field because NASCAR ruled his vehicle didn’t get to the starting grid on time.
Keselowski was able to keep his 16th-place starting spot. But both teams might be in for penalties due to parts that Robin Pemberton, NASCAR’s vice president for competition, told reporters were “not in the spirit of the rule.”
“In pre-race inspection they felt like there was something that was a questionable item that they wanted replaced,” said Travis Geisler, Penske’s director of competition. “We replaced all the parts in question. They have them all. We’re working through the process here as it goes to get through inspection. Unfortunately a little tighter timeline here than we’d like to be on, but I certainly understand their position and don’t disagree with where they are.”
A rear-end housing is a casing that contains the gears and axels in the back of the vehicle. Teams began to get creative in that area last season, with the yawed setups sometimes employed on the previous generation of Sprint Cup car. Saturday, Geisler said the Penske teams weren’t trying anything particularly unorthodox in that area of the vehicles.
“There isn’t anything in there that’s groundbreaking as far as new pieces and parts,” he said. “But it’s a sport that moves all the time. (NASCAR is) doing what they need to do to ensure an even playing field, which I certainly agree with and expect them to do week in and week out. If there’s a question in their mind, we’d much rather put it out of their mind by changing the parts and making sure that they’re comfortable that we’re all on an even playing field. And I feel confident that we are all here tonight.”
Getting there, though, was a scramble. The Penske vehicles were the last two vehicles in the garage area, and Keselowski’s car successfully cleared the laser inspection platform as driver introductions wound down. Crewmen continued to scramble under the rear of the No. 22 car, which needed three passes to get though the laser platform, and passed the final stages of inspection just as the command to start engines was given.
“That’s what these guys do for a living, so it’s not really a crisis,” Geisler said of the 11th-hour changeover. “We do those kinds of things during practice at times. Everybody’s set up for it. It’s obviously not expected at this point in the day, but that’s racing. You have to expect the unexpected, and that’s the way it goes.”
Having gotten the cars on track in time for the start of the race, the Penske team now faces the prospect of penalties from NASCAR. “We always have a good, open dialogue with them. They’ll keep us in the loop about how they feel about what’s going on there,” Geisler said. “I’m sure well all discuss that in the upcoming days.”
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