<
>

Brad Keselowski OK with Penske

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Team owner Roger Penske will not ask Brad Keselowski to tone down after a tumultuous week in the media for the reigning Sprint Cup champion.

"I want him to be Brad Keselowski,'' Penske said before Sunday's race at Michigan International Speedway. "That would be the wrong thing for me to do.''

Keselowski was called out by team owners Rick Hendrick and Joe Gibbs on Friday for being misinformed in comments about their organizations poaching employees from the Ford organizations of Penske Racing and Roush Fenway Racing.

Penske himself said Keselowski was wrong, noting the employees that went to Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing were not under contract when they left.

"He's a great driver,'' Penske said. "I fully support him. There's always going to be something, whether it's your driver, your kids or someone, something is going to happen that people are going to think is odd or maybe misfortunate that maybe isn't currently what you might think.

"As far as I'm concerned, I fully support him and this situation is way out of context.''

Keselowski made the comments on Thursday at Ford headquarters in nearby Dearborn, Mich., when explaining how Penske Racing and RFR were going to work more closely together to catch up with Chevrolet and Toyota.

"What keeps it from going too far is the fact Hendrick and Gibbs have this nasty little habit of going to our teams and outbidding different people and taking those employees and stealing our information,'' Keselowski said.

"When that happens that kind of puts up walls between camps, because you're giving up more than one company's information, you're giving up two company's information.''

Hendrick was upset when he saw the comments and called Penske to discuss them.

"It's really no big deal, other than the fact I just wanted to get the facts out there,'' Hendrick said on Sunday. "Poaching is a pretty strong word, especially if there is absolutely nothing to it.''

Hendrick said he hasn't attempted to contact Keselowski and the driver that once drove his Nationwide Series car at JR Motorsports hasn't tried to contact him.

"It's really no need for that,'' Hendrick said. "It's just trying to get the facts straight. Normally I just don't respond to stuff like that. This time, it was just a little bit out there to be blaming somebody else for your shortcomings.''

Keselowski has been criticized several times during his tenure as champion for being misinformed. NASCAR chairman Brian France called him to his office in Daytona Beach, Fla., prior to the season opener.

"It's good to speak your mind,'' Hendrick said when asked if it's important for the champion to be so outspoken. "There's nothing wrong with that. It's good to have an opinion. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

"Just when you speak and you accuse people of something you need to be accurate.''