during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on July 22, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

NASCAR takes the unusual step of criticizing one of its drivers and adding a not-so-subtle shot

So it's not unusual for Toyota drivers to criticize Brad Keselowski for his constant harping on Toyota's success in NASCAR.

It's quite another for NASCAR to weigh in -- especially in this way.

NASCAR has accused Kes of "posturing," and then delivered a not-so-subtle jab.

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"I look at it as a little bit of posturing. Brad certainly ran well this weekend (finishing sixth)," said NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell. He then said, on SIRIUS NASAR radio, "At the end of the day, you've had that car all year long. It's the playoffs, and you have to go out there and deliver."

That's true -- it's up to the driver to deliver. It's just unusual to hear a sports executive say so, so directly.

Maybe that's a good thing. NASCAR has battled a number of controversies lately, from the Smithfield Foods vs. Richard Petty spat, to Subway dropping Daniel Suarez, to the Kes vs. Kyle Busch twitter feud. The last thing it needs is another brewing issue as the sport would rather concentrate on the playoffs.

From that perspective, putting the onus back on Kes may have been a smart thing to do -- especially since his own owner, Roger Penske, has said Kes' views don't reflect that of the team.

Still, Penske's remarks weren't nearly as pointed when he said, "Look, I'm not on Twitter," he told a couple reporters when asked about the situation. "I don't regard that the way I run my business, and Brad has his own thoughts that are probably not the feeling of the team at this point."

O'Donnell said he doesn't believe there's any imbalance in the sport.

"Certainly our job is to put a level playing field out there," O'Donnell said. "We've got a process that each of the (manufacturers) goes through and kind of witnesses. We believe they are on a level playing field."