Roger Penske defends Keselowski, says other drivers “jealous” of his success

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Brad Keselowski’s reputation in the Sprint Cup garage appeared to take a hit following last weekend’s post-race proceedings at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Keselowski was able to shake it off and win today’s GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway to advance to the Eliminator Round of the Chase.

But it was clear in his initial post-race comments in Victory Lane that the Charlotte incidents were not something he was thrilled with.

Naturally, the conversation in Keselowski’s post-race presser veered toward Charlotte – in particular, how he didn’t get down on himself as some of his peers criticized him for what he did.

But after Keselowski said his piece on the subject – which involved him talking about making peace with the fact there would be “uncomfortable moments” as he came up in the sport – his boss stepped in.

“Number one, these guys are jealous of the job he’s done this year,” said Keselowski’s team owner, Roger Penske. “He’s won six races.  He’s made poles. He’s been up front. Nobody likes to see a guy win like that. The fact that he has a little edge on him, he’s continually delivering, obviously I think makes a difference.”

Penske then made reference to the hard racing that Keselowski endured at Charlotte.

“If everybody understood what happened on the racetrack last week, when you get your rear fender knocked off on a restart, you get your front fender knocked off on a pass-by, I want him to get mad,” he said.  “I don’t want him to take it.”

“So to me coming back, we talked about it Sunday night, I said, ‘Let’s just go on, do our test [at Martinsville] during the week, move on here. ‘Brad’, I said, ‘put it in the rearview mirror.'”

Keselowski has maintained that Matt Kenseth damaged the right-front section of his car as he took a wave-around during the final restart of the Charlotte race – an apparent retaliation for Kenseth being run up into the wall by Keselowski on a previous restart with 63 laps left (Kenseth said on Friday that Keselowski “greatly exaggerated” the wave-around incident).

The two then tangled again at the conclusion of the Bank of America 500 when Kenseth was side-swiped by Keselowski at the entrance to pit road. Finally, Kenseth jumped Keselowski from behind as the latter was walking between haulers.

Earlier this week, NASCAR fined Keselowski $50,000 over the sequence of events. But while Penske admitted that there “was maybe some banging which was maybe not called for,” he made clear that he doesn’t mind Keselowski showing emotion.

“Look, I like him,” Penske added. “He’s a great driver. We have a long-term relationship with him. If he wants to get a little upset sometimes, that’s okay with me. We’ll let NASCAR figure out if he’s over the line or not.

“I guess it cost us 50 grand. I’ll take 50 grand and the win this week. Wouldn’t you?”

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