Matt Kenseth believes the reason Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano have qualified no worse than fourth in NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying format is they’re getting help from an unofficial satellite team – Leavine Family Racing.
Kenseth told Motor Racing Network the No. 95 Ford with driver Michael McDowell tested at Phoenix and Bristol, 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 currently 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.
EX-CHAMP GRIEVING: Keselowski has struggled with the emotional pain of losing a friend and former NASCAR employee 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 Charlotte and how difficult it was to celebrate since his former roommate was missing.
A day after the victory this friend – he only referred to him as “James” in the blog – killed himself.
Keselowski said he knows how lucky he’s been to get a ride in the Sprint Cup Series while so many others have struggled.
“They made the same sacrifices,” Keselowski wrote. "And a lot of those people didn’t make it. It’s because I’ve been there and sacrificed that I really feel for those people. It’s something I’m mindful of when celebrating a win.”
Keselowski closed his blog by providing the telephone number of the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.