NASCAR meets with Keselowski after USA TODAY Sports story(video) by HankKlinger


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									NASCAR meets with Keselowski after USA TODAY Sports
by alaska303 | on February 23, 2013

Brad Keselowski got the attention of NASCAR’s executives
after sharing his thoughts in an in-depth cover story Friday

(Photo: Douglas Jones, USA TODAY Sports)

STORY HIGHLIGHTS Keselowski met with Brian France and Lesa France Kennedy Friday
Keselowski shared vision for NASCAR‘s future in USA TODAY Sports exclusive
The outspoken Sprint Cup champion has been fined by NASCAR on more than one occasion
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — NASCAR executives met Friday with Brad Keselowski after the defending
Sprint Cup Series champion outlined the challenges facing the sport in a USA TODAY Sports cover story.

NASCAR Chief Communications Officer Brett Jewkes said Keselowski wasn’t
penalized nor was he facing further punishment.
Jewkes said the meeting wasn’t directly a result of the USA TODAY Sports story, but it was discussed.
NASCAR generally had been seeking more dialogue with its champion, according to Jewkes, and Friday
provided the opportunity.

KESELOWSKI: Shares vision for NASCAR’s future

“Brad has opinions, some informed and some less informed,” Jewkes said. “The meeting was to improve the

The Penske Racing driver met separately for 30 minutes with NASCAR chairman Brian France and
International Speedway Corp. CEO Lesa France Kennedy.

The Penske Racing driver met separately for 30 minutes with NASCAR chairman Brian France and
International Speedway Corp. CEO Lesa France Kennedy.

“No one wants Brad to be more candid and outspoken than Brian France,” Jewkes told USA TODAY Sports
on Saturday morning. “But to be outspoken, you have to be informed, particularly when you’re a champion
and not a 20th-place driver. That was the message Brian wanted to send was to make sure Brad understands
the issues a little deeper.”

Keselowski tweeted afterward, “Spent some time with the Lesa and Brian from the NASCAR team after
yesterday’s article, the passion we all share for our sport is amazing!”

OPPORTUNITY: Want your face on Brad Keselowski’s car?

Told NASCAR had met with Keselowski because of his opinions, four-time champion Jeff Gordon said he
could “see that coming from (NASCAR), wanting (Keselowski) to have all the details. He was pretty
descriptive about it.

“I think it’s not out of the ordinary for a new champion to feel confident to be able to express an opinion on
things,” the four-time champion said. “Brad cares a lot about the sport. He’s not trying to do anything that
would hurt the sport. When you’re that open, it doesn’t surprise me that NASCAR is wanting to talk about it. I
don’t think it necessarily means they’re saying, ‘Don’t do that.’

“I applaud a guy who’s passionate about the sport and wants to give his opinion.”

Keselowski, 29, told USA TODAY Sports that he believes there are multiple entities that have to work
together for NASCAR to be successful.

“We have sponsors — partners, or whatever the hell you want to call them — tracks, the sanctioning body and
the teams. Those are our four groups, and how well they cooperate dictates what we have as a product for our
fans. And our fans create everything,” Keselowski said.
Keselowski also noted how television has changed the landscape of all sports and how that’s affected
attendance — especially in NASCAR. Keselowski speculated on why NASCAR hadn’t adapted to that,
mentioning Brian France and Lesa France Kennedy, specifically:

When Bill France Jr. was in charge of NASCAR, he had control of all these pieces and wasn’t at the mercy of
the TV world. He had control of the tracks and NASCAR, which is now divided in two with Lesa (France
Kennedy, president of International Speedway Corp. that controls 12 tracks) and (NASCAR Chairman) Brian
(France). France Jr. had relationships with the sponsors, drivers and teams. Now we don’t have that. Those
three other pieces are segregated. Those three pieces need to get together. And until all three of those can unite,
we’re a house divided, and we’re making bad decisions that are affecting how to generate revenue for the
In today’s sports world, you have to be very powerful in drawing people to TV, and we’re not TV-friendly.
That’s one of the key areas for success. Part of that is we’re not delivering a product. And we’re fighting the
tracks. We have to be up on the wheel a little more and looking for what’s in front of us, and when we see it,
we have to be able to react on it. And in order to be able to react on it, we need to be united.
It’s not the first time the outspoken Keselowski’s comments have drawn the focus of NASCAR. He was fined
$25,000 for criticizing fuel injection in November 2011, the last in a policy of “secret fines” that NASCAR
eliminated last year.
Keselowski became the first Sprint Cup driver to send a tweet during a race when last year’s Daytona 500 was
delayed by an inferno. He tweeted again in a November race at Phoenix International Raceway but was fined
$25,000 and placed on probation.

In January 2012, NASCAR announced it no longer would fine drivers in secret, but France said the
sanctioning body still could punish those for disparaging remarks. Besides Keselowski, Ryan Newman and
Denny Hamlin also were punished for making comments (or Twitter posts) that NASCAR deemed detrimental
to its brand.

“If you challenge the integrity of the sport, we’re going to deal with that,” France said. “What’s really
interesting is I can’t tell you how many owners or drivers come up to me and say, ‘Thanks for doing that
because some of these comments were irresponsible and unhelpful to growing the sport.’

“Now, having said that, you can be critical of things you don’t think we’re doing well, in particular a race call.
You can say, ‘I don’t think I was speeding; I disagree with that.’ We understand that. It’s when you go after
the integrity of the sport is where we will step in, and they will be public.”

After Keselowski’s comments about fuel injection (which he essentially called a publicity stunt that didn’t
improve competition but cost teams money), France explained NASCAR’s reasons for taking punitive
measures against its stars.

“We went for 50-something years and never had a system to fine anybody for disparaging remarks in the
sport,” France said during a 2011 news conference at Homestead-Miami Speedway. “We’re the only sport on
the planet that had that. So we simply in the last couple of years changed that policy because we thought we
needed to.

“We’ve taken a position that drivers are going to be able to speak their mind and criticize the sport way more
than any other sport would allow. However, there have to be some limits. We thought those limits were being
exceeded in the last couple of years because you can’t denigrate the sport. We’re not going to accept that.”

During Champions Week in Las Vegas last November, Tony Stewart made the case for allowing NASCAR’s
eighth-youngest champion a wider berth in expressing himself. Stewart, who drew the ire of NASCAR in 2007
for comparing the sport with professional wrestling after a state of caution flags for debris, said, “I don’t think
Brad’s learned to be cautious yet. Hopefully that won’t bite him like it has a lot of drivers in the past. It’s
refreshing. It’s nice to see somebody who just speaks from the heart and isn’t guarded, and that’s the way all of
us should be.

“I think that’s what the fans want to hear. But I’m so scared that at some point, somebody is going to turn on
him, and it goes downhill from there.”

Follow Nate Ryan on Twitter @nateryan

PHOTOS: The career of Brad Keselowski

BONUS VIDEO – Top 10 With Brad Keselowski of NASCAR
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Thanks Hank.

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