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Brad Keselowski on media attention surrounding NASCAR fights: 'That's what the people want to see'

Nick Profile Picby:Nick Geddes06/07/24


Brad Keselowski
Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

In today’s sports ecosystem, it’s become harder and harder for NASCAR to get some shine in the mainstream media.

That is, unless something spicy is happening in the garage area such as a fight — just like the one we saw between Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Kyle Busch following the All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway last month. NASCAR blasted the clip out to its various social media accounts, and soon that clip was present on ESPN and others’ programming.

While Brad Keselowski admits he would like to see some other moments catch-on with non-traditional media, he acknowledges that fights and other off-track incidents are “what the people wanna see.”

“Some of the moments that I think we would like to break through as a sport to no offense to you guys, non-traditional media, that grows our sport, doesn’t seem to do that but then somebody throws a punch and all of a sudden we’re on all sorts of non-traditional media,” Keselowski told Claire B Lang on Friday. “I just have a lot of empathy for NASCAR. If I was in their shoes, I don’t know how I’d handle it any different.

“… That’s what the people wanna see,” Keselowski said. “It seems that way. Doesn’t mean it’s always right, in fact, often they wanna see it because it’s not right. But we are still an entertainment-based business.”

NASCAR comes down hard on Ricky Stenhouse Jr. following North Wilkesboro fight

While NASCAR has used these moments as content for its social media channels, at the same time, it has proven it discourages such actions from taking place. Case in point, Stenhouse received a record $75,000 fine for throwing a right hand at Busch, kicking off a full-on brawl between both their teams.

During an appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio following announcement of the fine, NASCAR vice president of competition Elton Sawyer explained why the sanctioning body came down hard on Stenhouse.

“When crew members get involved and family members get involved, we are going to react. And that’s exactly what we did,” Sawyer said. “We looked at all the audio and video from the incident on Sunday night. At this point, that’s all I’m gonna comment on the penalties. … When you wait 198 laps and you make those decisions that were made, again, we’re going to react to that. There could have been different decisions made.

“Once we start to get to the point where it gets physical. We want the two drivers to be able to have their time to express their differences. But again, once it escalates where there’s been a physical altercation there, we’re going to react. Granted there was no tunnel. Granted there was no crossover bridge. But better decisions could have been made through that period of time between the incident that happened on the racetrack. And the incident that happened in the garage.”