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Penske defends driver, but refutes claims

WEST ALLIS, Wis. (AP) - Roger Penske refuted Brad Keselowski's claim that some of their employees were poached by other NASCAR teams.

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Penske said Saturday ``I think Brad had some misinformation,'' when the defending Sprint Cup champion accused Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing of luring away Penske employees in an effort to steal information.

Keselowski's comments led to a stern rebuke from Rick Hendrick and Joe Gibbs, as both team owners blasted the driver for spreading false information.

``We didn't lose any employees who were under contract or who weren't free to go elsewhere as part of our engine reorganization,'' Penske said before the IndyCar race at the Milwaukee Mile.

Keselowski was at Ford headquarters in Dearborn, Mich., on Thursday, when he said his Penske Racing team has been reluctant to share information with Roush Fenway Racing on their Ford cars.

``What keeps it from going too far is the fact Hendrick and (Joe Gibbs Racing) have this nasty little habit of going to our teams and outbidding different people and taking those employees and stealing our information,'' Keselowski said, according to ESPN.com.

Keselowski didn't elaborate when asked about his comments Friday.

``We were just talking about Ford and specifically the relationship between Penske and Roush, and how strong it was,'' Keselowski said. ``I just commented on, there will always be limitations to our relationships company to company because of those transactions.''

Hendrick was first to respond, admitting he hired a backup Penske tire changer who was no longer under contract, a mechanic from the Nationwide Series program and a handful of engine shop employees. He also said Penske Racing hired a Hendrick tire changer.

``Brad misrepresents the facts and spends a lot of time making insinuations and accusations about other teams when he should be focused on his own program and competing at a high level,'' Hendrick said in a statement. ``I hope he figures that out and begins representing himself and the sport with more class.''

Gibbs said the one employee Keselowski was referring to in regard to his organization was not working in NASCAR when hired by JGR.

``We look forward to competing with Brad on the racetrack, but hope that he will use better judgment in the future before making such misinformed claims and accusations,'' Gibbs said.

Penske said Hendrick called him about Keselowski's comments and he considered the issue closed.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

  
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