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Brad Keselowski knows a little something about NASCAR’s dispensing of harsh penalties in 2022. The No. 6 car was the first team on the receiving end of a major punishment from the sanctioning body this year. It turned out to be the first of many.

This week, NASCAR was at it again, handing down a massive penalty to Cole Custer and Co. after Sunday’s race at the Charlotte Roval, where the No. 41 team was charged with manipulating the end of the race in a move to help his teammate. During an appearance on NASCAR Race Hub this week, the Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing co-owner offered a surprising take on the penalty that praised the decision and said why it’s good for the drivers and the sport as a whole. 

Brad Keselowski penalized early in season after Atlanta

Brad Keselowski gives thumbs up
Brad Keselowski gives a thumbs up to fans as he walks onstage during driver intros prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 17, 2022. | Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Brad Keselowski knew his first season with RFK Racing would be a challenge. That’s to be expected when you bring in new personnel and work with new systems and processes.

However, the 2012 Cup Series champ didn’t expect NASCAR to be one of his biggest hurdles. But that’s what happened following the first race of the season at Atlanta in March when the governing body assessed a major penalty to the No. 6 team following inspection at the Research and Development Center, which discovered modification of a single-source supplied part for the Next Gen car

NASCAR docked Keselowski 100 driver points and 10 playoff points, and RFK Racing was docked 100 owner points. Crew chief Matt McCall was suspended four races and fined $100,000.

Cole Custer receives major penalty

Last weekend on the Charlotte Roval, Keselowski had a solid run and finished 14th. Cole Custer had a Cole Custer-like day and finished 24th. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver’s performance itself wasn’t noteworthy. It’s what he did on the last lap that was. 

Going down the backstretch, the No. 41 dramatically slowed entering the chicane, which impeded Austin Dillon and Erik Jones, and allowed his SHR Racing teammate Chase Briscoe, who was battling Kyle Larson for the final spot to advance to the next round, to move past, gain several spots, and solidify his playoff position.

NASCAR announced minutes after the race in an email to the media that it was reviewing Custer’s move. This week, the sanctioning body revealed the findings of its investigation and announced its latest major penalty, which included $100,000 fines to Custer and crew chief Michael Shiplett, and the indefinite suspension of Shiplett. In addition, the team was docked 50 driver and 50 owner points. 

Keselowski praises NASCAR for Custer penalty


Brad Keselowski Admits He’s Been Part of Escalating Problem and Thinks NASCAR Sent a Clear Message With Penalties to William Byron and Ty Gibbs

This week during one of his regular appearances on the nightly NASCAR news show, Keselowski addressed the Custer situation. When Andy Petree asked what he thought about the team ordering the driver to make such a move, the veteran offered a surprising response. 

“Ultimately, I think NASCAR doing penalties like this is a favor to the drivers and to the industry,” Keselowski said. “Because what they’re really saying to the team owners and to the sponsors and the team executives, like, ‘Don’t put your driver in that spot.’ 

“We don’t want to be in that spot. I don’t want to be in that spot. I don’t want to be the driver that has to lift for a teammate. And by clearly defining the rules this way and kind of setting those lines in the sand, NASCAR is effectively making better racing for us.”

It’s not often you hear another driver praising NASCAR for penalizing another team. However, in this case, as Keselowski noted, it’s a punishment that sends a message to the garage and should help the drivers avoid being put in similar situations in the future. Or, at least that’s the hope.

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