Pole-sitter Brad Keselowski had an up and down day at Pocono Raceway on Monday that started early on in the running of the Axalta We Paint Winners 400. On lap 24, Keselowski came down pit road for a routine pit stop but with NASCAR’s officiating technology, something caught the eye of NASCAR.
Replays on FOX Sports 1 showed a crew member shoving themselves into the side of the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford. NASCAR forced Keselowski to come down pit road for unapproved body modifications to repair the damage. He would also have to serve a pass-through penalty once the field received the green flag. After serving the pass-through, Keselowski would be running in the 38th position.
Jeff Gordon, who retired from racing in the Sprint Cup Series and joined FOX Sports this last offseason, went over the advantages of the modification. Gordon said it caves in the doors that creates a flair in the fender just before the right-rear tire. The idea behind it is that it creates sideforce, downforce and ultimately, more speed.
Keselowski wasn’t too pleased with Gordon and FOX Sports 1 after learning about the coverage of the situation. And apparently, it isn’t the first time they have done this as FOX Sports 1 showed footage of the team doing the exact same thing earlier in the year at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. And who won at Las Vegas Motor Speedway? Brad Keselowski.
“That’s because Jeff Gordon is in the booth,” Keselowski said in a USA Today Sports article. “They need to get some people in the booth who aren’t inbred to the sport and own teams and have internal knowledge, because that’s pretty crappy. But it is what it is.” He later on had this to say “It’s not that I don’t like Jeff Gordon in the booth. It’s that you need to have people who don’t own teams or have commercial interests in the sport, because they say things that are very biased.”
"My mistake comparing @keselowski @LVMotorSpeedwayincident today @poconoraceway but @NASCAR called car down pit road to fix issue not me," said Gordon on Twitter when he learned about the comments. He then sent another tweet that read "I will admit I am biased in the booth....to anyone making it interesting and exciting for all the @NASCARONFOX viewers!"
So is this news or just engine noise?
I’m going with engine noise on this one.
We have seen television analysts in the broadcast booth who are actively invested in a team or related to an active driver over the years. One that would stand out is during the 1993 Daytona 500, where Ned Jarrett’s son Dale Jarrett, won his first of three Daytona 500’s. A similar instance would occur nearly a decade later when Darrell Waltrip called the 2001 Daytona 500, where brother Michael Waltrip, would claim his first of two Daytona 500 wins. His other victory in the “Great American Race” would come two seasons later in 2003.
Furthermore, last Saturday, FOX Sports announced that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will join the FOX Sports broadcast team for this weekend’s NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Michigan International Speedway. Guess what? Earnhardt Jr. owns three XFINITY Series entries and races in the series every so often. If it’s wrong for Gordon to be in the booth, wouldn’t it be wrong for Earnhardt Jr. as well?
Keselowski also spent some time calling NASCAR XFINITY Series races in the booth for FOX Sports. Like Earnhardt, Keselowski races in the series quite often with Team Penske. Earnhardt and Keselowski are just two of eight drivers who will do so in 2016. Others include Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, and Danica Patrick.
Broadcasters being former drivers or current team owners will always be a thing in racing. It’s important to connect and engage viewers with former drivers or owners so that they can better explain to the average fan of what their seeing on their television sets. It would be interesting to know what things we would miss on a daily basis had they kept drivers, owners or other personal, away from broadcasting the race.
It’s possible that Keselowski was just worn out following the Axalta We Paint Winners 400. I'm sure Keselowski would've said something different on the topic had the question been posed a couple of hours after the event. The Michigan native walked away with a third-place finish and a shot of winning the 400-mile event.
Is this news or just engine noise? Join into the conversation on Twitter by tweeting me your thoughts @NASCAR_BRETT!