Brad Keselowski said last week's comments about his rivals' competitive advantage were misconstrued into an accusation of cheating – which is not what he meant, he said Thursday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Keselowski, speaking at a media dinner after unveiling a Rusty Wallace tribute paint scheme for his car this weekend, insisted he never said competitors like Hendrick Motorsports were breaking the rules when he touched on the subject after Sunday's race at Michigan.
"There's a misconception in the stock car community that because we drive stock cars, they're all the same," he said, "and that anyone who is driving a car that is not the same is cheating – which is a bit baffling to me."
Keselowski said he was trying to describe the difference in what his Penske Racing car has and what rivals like Hendrick Motorsports have in their cars – and said he'd like to have more speed to make a legitimate run in the Chase.
"My comments were, in general, an observation to what was being seen. I think those were turned around into an accusation of cheating," he said. "... I didn't appreciate how those words were twisted into calling out some specific teams."
After finishing second at Michigan, Keselowski repeated what other drivers have said about the Hendrick cars since June: The team is using a gray area of the rules to gain an advantage in speed.
"There's parts and pieces on the car that are moving after inspection that make the car more competitive," he said at Michigan. "Some guys have it, some don't. There's a question to the interpretation of the rule. Penske Racing errs on the safe side because we don't want to be the guys that get the big penalty."
On Thursday, Keselowski said he made it a point not to name specific teams, even though most people knew that included Hendrick. But he noted there were more cars than just Hendrick doing it.
"I respect them and their ability to do those things, and to be innovators," he said. "It's our challenge to find that little bit of speed and have a true understanding of all the rules it entails. It's something we're watching."
When asked if his comments had spurred Penske Racing to start working harder in those areas – which focus on the rear end of the car – Keselowski chose his words carefully as to not reveal his team's strategy.
"It's certainly an area every team in the garage is evaluating," he said. "... It's certainly something we're watching."