A week ago, Ryan Newman attempted a last lap desperate pass of Kyle Larson to clinch a berth in the championship round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
The move saw Newman dive-bomb Larson in Turn 3, then bounce off the rookie and push him into the wall to complete the pass. By doing so, Newman gained an additional point and broke a tiebreaker with Jeff Gordon for the fourth and final spot in Sunday's championship finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Afterward Newman was mostly lauded for his aggressiveness, with both Gordon and Larson saying they understood the circumstances. It's that lack of criticism Brad Keselowski believes represents a double standard within the sport, and that he is held to a different standard than other drivers.
"Clearly, the standards are different across the driver platforms," Keselowski said. "I think we all can see that. I can either sweat that or I can sit here and point out that I'm still the youngest one of the guys that has won a championship in the last decade, which kind of makes me the newest guy in the circle and I'm a threat to those that are established in the sport.
"I understand that. I accept that. And they're going to try to put a double standard on me to try to hold us back. I'm not going to stand for it."
A week before Phoenix, Keselowski was condemned for attempting a three-wide pass of Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson for the lead late in the race at Texas Motor Speedway, which left Gordon with a flat tire causing him to finish 29th. Angry, Gordon confronted Keselowski on pit road postrace, setting off a brawl between their respective teams.
Keselowski’s lack of etiquette set Gordon off
It wasn’t just Brad Keselowski causing him to spin. What really upset Jeff Gordon was Keselowski walking away from him on pit road.
Initially, Gordon took umbrage with Keselowski trying to squeeze between himself and Johnson. Later Gordon said it wasn't the maneuver itself that upset him, but Keselowski's lack of remorse in causing the flat tire.
Keselowski vehemently defended his actions, saying there was a hole and he was merely going for the lead in a race he needed to win. The 2012 Sprint Cup champion said he will not change his aggressive driving style, even though several drivers have taken offense in recent weeks, including Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth.
As for potential payback that may be coming his way, Keselowski isn't concerned.
"I don't think I have anything to worry about," Keselowski said. "Payback for what? If payback for anything is racing the way I race, then I don't really consider that payback. I consider that hard racing and I support that."