Button gets advice; Byron, Harvick differ on Hamlin penalty
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Keselowski: NASCAR penalty good for RFK Racing
A year ago, after the NASCAR Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Brad Keselowski was frustrated and upset by the huge penalty NASCAR inflicted on him and his No. 6 team for modifying a one-stop part. Today, the co-owner of the team is glad it happened.
“It was one of the best things that has ever happened to us because it forced us to look inside and improve,” said Keselowski. “It changed our culture within the company to have better behaviors. That was good for the industry. I thought it set a tone for the industry.”
The one-stop part that was modified was a empennage. Keselowski was docked 100 driver and 100 owner points, 10 playoff points, crew chief Matt McCall was suspended for four cup races and fined $100,000.
“I think it’s really easy, and I’ve been a victim of that too, to think of NASCAR as a boogieman,” Keselowski said. “In many ways they are trying to help us and help the sport and make sure it can be healthy.
“Whether NASCAR is right or Hendrick is right about their penalty I don’t know in this particular situation but overall I understand the inclination and the emotion behind the teams and maybe the fans who are happy about a penalty but in the end there is penalties for a reason. They are there to make this circus somewhat manageable and sustainable.”
Preece shares button advice at pit crew training
When former Formula 1 champion Jenson Button makes his NASCAR debut at the Circuit of Americas next weekend, it will be the first time he has experienced a pit stop the way it is performed in stock car racing.
During a recent pit stop practice at Stewart-Haas Racing, Ryan Preece advised Button to pretend his crew members didn’t exist.
“You’re not going to hit her. They won’t let you hit them,” Preece told Button.
“He’ll be fine. He nailed the tracks.”
Button, who won the 2009 F1 championship with Brawn GP, is driving the #15 Ford Mustang for Rick Ware Racing in three NASCAR Cup races this year. In addition to the COTA, he will compete in the Chicago Street Race on July 2nd and August 13th at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course.
Byron calls Hamlin’s penalty unlucky; Harvick has a different attitude
William Byron believes that the $50,000 fine and 25 driver points deduction NASCAR imposed on Denny Hamlin for admitting on his podcast that he destroyed Ross Chastain on the final lap at Phoenix Raceway, are “unhappy”.
“You guys are going to play a game of poker because the guys can’t tell what happened right now,” Byron said Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. “There are a lot of people who fake that in interviews and we riders know it. So it’s unfortunate that those are the guys who are getting away with it.”
However, Kevin Harvick disagrees, as NASCAR considered the last-lap accident between Hamlin and Chastain a racing accident before Hamlin aired his confession.
“It’s like going to court and pleading guilty,” Harvick said. “It’s hard not to answer. It’s hard to respond otherwise when the plea is already guilty.
“I think there is still a lot of room for maneuver in terms of driving. There will always be different opinions, but I can tell you that destroying people with caution and destroying people on purpose in the state we are in with the vulnerability to injury and the way the car still falls, that has to stop.
“Race hard, things happen and being able to pay a guy back for it is still achievable.”
Familiarity with Interim Crew Chiefs varies
With all four Hendrick Motorsports crew chiefs suspended from NASCAR earlier this week, Kyle Larson is probably the least familiar with his replacement.
Greg Ives, who was Alex Bowman’s crew chief for six seasons, is returning to the pit lane after leaving it at the end of last season.
William Byron expects interim crew chief Brian Campe to be “great” because he works with him a lot in the workshop and spends “a lot” of time with him during the team’s competitive sessions. He has worked alongside his engineer Brandon McSwain since his JR Motorsports days in 2017.
“He was my engineer at JRM when we won the championship and he’s going to be a big factor and a bigger role throughout the weekend,” said Byron. “I’m looking forward to it because we know each other really well. We exchange texts about the car probably about 10 times a week.”
However, Kyle Larson didn’t see interim crew chief Kevin Meendering until he arrived at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday morning.