From team orders at Talladega to Michael Waltrip Racing's illegal windshields to Chad Knaus instructing Jimmie Johnson to intentionally damage his car, it's been a rough week for NASCAR in terms of politics and ethical concerns.
But it's not fair to lump all competitors into one group, Brad Keselowski said Friday at Martinsville Speedway. In fact, the driver said his Penske Racing team is willing to sacrifice some potential performance advantages in the name of rule-following.
Keselowski has asked team owner Roger Penske several times in the past why certain things aren't done to the cars.
"He's told me point-blank: ‘Hey, this is something that is a little grey and I don't live in the grey area,'" Keselowski recalled. "'It's not how I run my race teams, it's not how I'm going to run my race teams. And if I lose races because I'm not in the grey area, I'll accept that so that I don't have to answer for the races that I've won and been yelled at, or discredited, or had the asterisk put next to me for some sort of violation.'"
"I have a tremendous amount of respect for that," Keselowski added. "It's easy to fall into temptation of sorts to push it a little bit harder."
Penske's approach seems to be the exception rather than the rule in NASCAR. And Keselowski said he shares the same view of honorable racing, despite wanting to win as badly as anyone else.
"I don't want that win to be discredited in any way shape or form," Keselowski said. "If that means I have to lose a few to make sure that the wins I have are credited the right way, then I'll do that."
That might be surprising coming from a driver whose first career victory came after a scary wreck with Carl Edwards at Talladega and who has been known to use his fender to make a winning pass.
But Keselowski said integrity and hard racing are two very different issues.
"There's a question of integrity when you maybe stop on the race track to cause a yellow; there's a question of integrity when you maybe have something illegal with your car that you know about and things of that nature," he said. "... Those are different, in my opinion at least, than what I went through there at Talladega because they're further reaching."
Keselowski said a bump-and-run move to win the race is "ethical."
"Man, that's great," he said of hard racing. "(But) if you win a race because you have a cheated-up part that nobody else had and your car is faster, I think that kind of goes against the integrity of the sport and what has made NASCAR so successful to date."