KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Forget that the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage is a self-policing society.
Forget that the transporter of reigning Cup champion Brad Keselowski was parked next to that of five-time champ Jimmie Johnson last week at Texas or that their garage stalls were in close proximity.
Johnson said emphatically that no one on his No. 48 team blew the whistle on Keselowski’s team last week, when infractions involving rear end housings subsequently led to huge penalties for both of Penske Racing’s Cup cars — the No. 2 of Keselowski and the No. 22 of Joey Logano.
Crew chiefs Paul Wolfe (No. 2) and Todd Gordon (No. 22) were fined $100,000 each and suspended for six Cup points races as well at the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race in May. NASCAR also suspended the car chiefs and race engineers of both teams, along with Penske team manager Travis Geisler, for six weeks.
The punishments are stayed pending the hearing of Penske’s appeal, but if they are upheld, the loss of personnel will test severely the depth of the Penske organization.
Where the actual detection of the violations is concerned, Johnson said in no uncertain terms that the No. 48 team had nothing to do with it, despite speculation to the contrary earlier in the week.
“No, the Hendrick group and the No. 48 team did not rat out the Penske cars,” Johnson said Friday morning before Cup practice at Kansas Speedway. “There are two decisions teams are faced with in the garage area. Everybody has people watching. We’ve been very impressed with the No. 2 car’s staff and their ability to have somebody just stand and watch other teams.”
Johnson says that, while someone from the 48 team may try to discern what other teams are doing, it’s not their style to play garage tattletale.
“This environment does take place in the garage area. Yeah, there are eyes open, but when a team sees something, they have two options. One, they go home and try to adapt it to their car and understand it and see if they can make it work, or they go in the (NASCAR) truck and say something. We don’t say something. We’re a company built on performance. We’re a company that tries to understand the rule book as close as we can to the law.
“Sure, we have had our issues with it, but that’s racing — it’s been that way since day one of racing. We go in there and we try to be as smart as we can and conform to the rules and put the best race car on the track. With all that being said, no, sure there was a lot of activity around the Penske cars during the test day, just like all the other cars. Everybody is watching, everybody is looking, but in no way shape or form did anybody from the No. 48 car walk into that truck and say anything.”