Race Day Q and A: With Roger Penske
Roger Penske is one of the winningest and most respected team owners in all of motor sports.
One of his current Sprint Cup drivers, Brad Keselowski, has been at the center of NASCAR’s major current controversy – a late-race crash at Atlanta two weeks ago in which Keselowski’s car was hit from behind by that of Carl Edwards, and launched into the air near the grandstands.
Keselowski has been accused of aggressive driving since he came into NASCAR in the Nationwide Series.
This weekend, Penske was summoned by NASCAR officials to talk about the issue. Afterward, he talked to the media.
Here is a portion of that interview:
Question: Have you ever told Brad to back down?
Penske: “Brad has only driven for us for this year. He’s a terrific talent. I don’t tell my drivers to run hard or to run soft. I think he knows what he has to do on the race track with his peers and quite honestly, he’s not making any statements about what he’s gonna do or not do. I think the media has taken some of that and moved it further and made him with a bigger circle around him. What I want him to do is run fair on the race track and be competitive. But he’s got to respect the other drivers. They have to respect him.”
Question: Brad has said he is not going to back down, change his style…
Penske: “He hasn’t said that to me as far as I’m concerned. He wants to race. He wants to have his car in the race at the end. Consequently, if you’re not keeping your car underneath you, you’re gonna get yourself in trouble and not be there in the end. As far as I’m concerned, it’s behind us. It’s an issue that was between the two drivers. I think it mounted because of accidents that had happened. Maybe it was their fault, maybe it wasn’t. At the end of the day, nobody got hurt last week. We’re here to have a good race.”
Question: What goes through your head when you see your driver involved in an accident like that?
Penske: “I heard on the radio from the spotter that said, ‘Look like he’s trying to wreck you back over in (Turn) 3.’ I looked over in 3 because Kurt (Busch) was leading the race at that point and I saw that there was no contact. And then I was watching Kurt going into Turn 1 and I heard them say “yellow” on my radio and I looked down and saw the car barrel rolling. Obviously, I was concerned for Brad and his safety and anybody else’s. Brad on the radio – the first thing he said to me was, ‘Did anybody get hurt in the stand?’ That was the first thing that came out of Brad’s mouth. And then he said, ‘I’m fine.’ At that point I was worried about Kurt winning the race after that.”
Question: How do you feel that Brad is fitting in in the Garage?
Penske: “I’m not taking a poll in the garage area about what driver personalities are and what other people feel about them. He’s a competitor out there. He drives for Penske Racing and I’m going to support him.”
Question: Do you think Brad needs some freshman hazing to be able to run with his peers?
Penske: “I think Brad has raced with his peers on the Nationwide Series, with many of these people. I think he knows how to race. I’ve got all the respect for him. He’ll earn his respect in the garage area by winning and finishing strong. To me, we need to put this behind us.”No Comment