NASCAR’s huge dilemma: What to do with Brad Keselowski?


CONCORD, N.C. – Smack dab in the middle of perhaps the most important Chase for the Sprint Cup to date, NASCAR finds itself in a situation where it’s damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t.

With so much riding on the new elimination-style Chase format, should NASCAR penalize Brad Keselowski for his actions at Charlotte, knowing full well that if it does, it will effectively eliminate Keselowski from the Chase?

By intentionally running into Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart, Keselowski made his own bed. And now it’s up to NASCAR to decide if it needs to change the linens as a result.

Whatever decision NASCAR ultimately comes to – to penalize Keselowski or not – will be met with criticism.

If the sanctioning body does nothing, it will likely draw huge criticism from fans. For if Keselowski can get away with what he did, what other drivers will throw all caution to the wind in the remaining five Chase races?

If that were to occur, we would likely see the Chase quickly go from high drama to outright mayhem.

Surely, that’s not what NASCAR wants.

At the same time, many fans will argue that Keselowski definitely needs to be punished, if for nothing else but to send a message that such actions will not be tolerated going forward.

But then there’s the other side of the potential punishment coin.

If NASCAR were to penalize Keselowski the usual standard of 25 points, doing so would all but eliminate him from any chance of reaching the Eliminator Round – unless he pulls a Hail Mary win out of his back pocket at Talladega.

Do the math: Keselowski is ranked 10th of the 12 drivers left in the Chase, 50 points behind series leader and teammate Joey Logano and 19 points behind the guy who is in eighth place and on the elimination bubble, Kasey Kahne.

If NASCAR were to slap Keselowski with a 25-point fine, he would have to win Talladega. If he were to finish with a top-five, let’s say, he’d have to hope the other 38 drivers behind him on the racetrack get caught up in the biggest one of Big Ones at the unpredictable wildcard track.

Impossible? No. Unlikely? Most definitely yes.

But that puts NASCAR in a bind of the opposite extreme: If it penalizes Keselowski, all but ending his Chase advancement chances, fan criticism will likely be equally as loud in support of the 2012 series champ as it would be against him if NASCAR does nothing at all.

Or, the sanctioning body could suspend Keselowski for Talladega as punishment, but that too would result in his elimination from advancing to the next round of the Chase.

This is without question, a classic Catch 22 that NASCAR finds itself in.

Or, maybe we should just call it a Catch 2 because that’s Keselowski’s car number.

NASCAR wants fans to tune in to the rest of the Chase, if not go out to the five remaining races on the schedule in person.

It also wants to see drama and human emotion that fans eat up like ice cream and apple pie.

But what can be done, especially when there are more than enough examples of past indiscretions and precedent that brought about NASCAR’s wrath:

  • Jeff Gordon was penalized 25 points and fined $100,000 for intentionally wrecking Clint Bowyer at Phoenix in the second-to-last race of the 2012 Chase. Gordon’s actions ultimately cost Bowyer one last shot at the championship the following week in the season finale at Homestead.
  • Even though it wasn’t in the Chase, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick were penalized 25 points for their Darlington demolition derby on pit road in 2011, much like what Keselowski did Saturday night in Charlotte.
  • The younger Busch brother was also suspended for one race in the 2011 Chase when he intentionally drove Ron Hornaday Jr.’s truck into the wall, effectively ending Hornaday’s Camping World Truck Series championship hopes as a result.

There’s no question that NASCAR has to do something with Keselowski, but what?

Sure, it could penalize him with the catch all infraction, Section 12-4-A of the NASCAR Rule Book, citing “Actions Detrimental to Stock Car Racing.”

But maybe this will also prompt NASCAR to come up with a new rule that might be a bit more appropriate in cases such as this:

“Forcing NASCAR Into a Corner Due to a Driver’s Own Stupidity.”

Yep, Keselowski certainly merits that, for sure.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Seattle Supercross by the numbers: Three riders separated by 17 points


Three riders remain locked in a tight battle with 17 points separating the leader Cooper Webb from third-place Chase Sexton and these are only a few Supercross numbers to consider entering Seattle.

Seattle Supercross numbers
Chase Sexton made a statement in Detroit with his second win of 2023. – Feld Motor Sports

For the fifth time in 10 rounds. Sexton, Webb, and Eli Tomac shared the podium in Detroit. Between them, the trio has taken 23 podiums, leaving only seven for the remainder of the field. Jason Anderson, Ken Roczen and Justin Barcia have two each with Aaron Plessinger scoring the other.

Webb and Tomac won the last four championships with two apiece in alternating years, but they were not one another’s primary rival for most of those seasons. On the average, however, the past four years show an incredible similarity with average points earned of 21.0 for Webb and 21.3 for Tomac. With five wins so far this season, Tomac (23 wins) leads Webb (19) in victories but Webb (43) edges Tomac (41) in podium finishes during this span.

Tomac has won two of the last three Seattle races and those two wins in this stadium are topped only by James Stewart. Fittingly, if Tomac gets a third win this week, he will tie Stewart for second on the all-time wins’ list. Tomac tied Ricky Carmichael for third with 48 wins at Oakland and took sole possession of that spot with his Daytona win.

Sexton still has a lot to say and after winning last week in Detroit, he is speaking up. The Supercross numbers are against him entering Seattle, however, because a points’ deficit this large after Round 10 has been erased only once. In 1983 David Bailey was 47 points behind Bob Hannah, and like Sexton he was also in third place. Bailey took the points’ lead with one race remaining.

The seven points Sexton was penalized last week for jumping in a red cross flag section in Detroit could prove extremely costly.

In fact, it has been a series of mistakes that has cost Sexton the most. In the last two weeks, he lost 10 points with a 10th-place finish to go with his penalty. Erase those, and all three riders hold their fate in their hands.

Plessinger’s heartbreak in Detroit is still fresh, but the upside of his run is that was his best of the season and could turn his fortunes around. Prior to that race, he led only seven laps in three mains. He was up front for 20 laps in Detroit with five of those being the fastest on the track.

Last week’s win by Hunter Lawrence tied him with his brother Jett Lawrence for 17th on the all-time wins’ list. With the focus shifting to 250 West for the next two rounds, Jett has a great opportunity to pull back ahead. The real test will be at the first East / West Showdown in East Rutherford, New Jersey on April 22.

Last Five Seattle Winners

2022: Eli Tomac
2019: Marvin Musquin
2018: Eli Tomac
2017: Marvin Musquin
2014: Ryan Villopoto

2022: Hunter Lawrence
2019: Dylan Ferrandis
2018: Aaron Plessinger
2017: Aaron Plessinger
2014: Cole Seely

By the Numbers

Anaheim 2
San Diego

More SuperMotocross coverage

How to Watch Seattle Supercross
Dylan Ferrandis may return before SX finale
SMX develops “Leader Lights”
Power Rankings after Detroit
Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan
Results and points after Detroit
Chase Sexton wins in Detroit, penalized seven points