Matt Kenseth believes the reason Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano have qualified no worse than fourth in NASCAR’s the new knockout qualifying format is they’re getting help from an unofficial satellite team — Leavine Family Racing.
Kenseth told the Motor Racing Network the No. 95 Ford with driver Michael McDowell tested at Phoenix and Bristol, Tenn., with Penske equipment. Teams are allowed to schedule four test sessions, so working with an independent could be a way to step outside the rules.
“Without opening a can of worms, it’s my understanding that they [Team Penske] got to do a lot of testing,” Kenseth told MRN. “I think they’ve been to all three tracks with their ‘satellite teams’ — Michael McDowell and cars like that I think in the Penske trailer.”
Kenseth drives for Joe Gibbs Racing. He has Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin as teammates. But under NASCAR’s rules, the entire organization is limited to the same four selected tests as the single-car operation at Leavine Family Racing.
Team owner Bob Leavine said his team buys cars and parts from Team Penske.
“What was he really suggesting or saying that somebody had an unfair advantage?,” Leavine said. “They could go out and do what they want to do.”
If multi-car teams are allowed to use independents to expand their test dates, it’s possible JTG Daugherty, Furniture Row Racing and Germain Racing all could work to give Richard Childress Racing a hand. RCR gives those three teams engines and parts, and it would allow all four organizations to stockpile a lot of information with 16 total tests.
Keselowski pain lingers
Keselowski has struggled with the emotional pain of losing a friend to suicide since last October. A week ago, he finally decided to talk about it on his blog, and in the process asked people with troubles to reach out for help.
The blog, titled “The Meaning of Winning,” talked about his victory last October at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and how difficult it was to celebrate since his former roommate was missing.
A day after the victory the friend — referred to only as “James” in the blog — killed himself.
Keselowski said James was laid off when NASCAR downsized and depression soon followed. James was charged with breaking and entering when he was found with rifles and paperwork stolen from Keselowski’s home and race shops. When police told James he would be arrested, he took off. Police feared for Keselowski and gave him protection during race week at Charlotte.
A day after the race, Keselowski said police found James’ body.