NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
          === Penske Racing penalties upheld, suspensions reduced ===
 Concord,  NC (Sports Network) - Penske Racing had the suspensions for seven of
 its members reduced on Tuesday after NASCAR issued heavy penalties to the team
 for rules violations that occurred last month at Texas Motor Speedway.
 National  Stock Car  Racing  Chief Appellate  Officer  John Middlebrook  heard
 Penske's  final appeal at NASCAR's Research and Development Center in Concord.
 Middlebrook,  who  is a former General  Motors executive, upheld the fines and
 loss  of points  assessed to Brad Keselowski's  No. 2 and Joey Logano's No. 22
 teams  for  illegal parts  found on  their cars  during pre-race inspection on
 April 13 at Texas.
 However, Middlebrook reduced the suspension period for those team members from
 six  points-paying  races to two.  They will not  be allowed to participate in
 race  activities  at Darlington Raceway  (May 11) and Charlotte Motor Speedway
 (May  26), as  well as the all-star  event at Charlotte (May 18). Their return
 will be the first weekend in June at Dover International Speedway.
 "After  looking  at all the  facts and data  and interpretations from the rule
 book,  I have  decided to  uphold the  original fines  and points  penalties,"
 Middlebrook  said in  a  statement. "However,  I have  decided  to reduce  the
 suspensions  of the  seven team members involved from six points races and the
 all-star race to two points races and the all-star race."
 NASCAR  handed  down  the  penalties  four days  after  the  infractions  were
 discovered  at  Texas. Keselowski's  crew chief, Paul  Wolfe, car chief, Jerry
 Kelley,  team engineer, Brian Wilson, and team manager Travis Geisler, as well
 as Logano's crew chief, Todd Gordon, car chief, Raymond Fox, and team engineer
 Samuel  Stanley had  been placed on suspension for six races. Wolfe and Gordon
 were  also  fined  $100,000  each  and placed  on  probation  until  Dec.  31.
 Keselowski  and Logano were both docked 25 driver points. Roger Penske, who is
 listed  as  the owner of the  No. 2 car, and  Walt Czarnecki, the owner of the
 No. 22 car, received a loss of 25 points as well.
 "Obviously,  I'm very  happy  with  the outcome,"  Penske  said shortly  after
 Middlebrook  made  his decision.  "I think  that this sport  has been built on
 innovation.  All  of us try to  innovate in areas  that are not defined in the
 rule  book. We were  in that area, and to me at this particular time, we'll go
 to  the track  at Darlington without our  key members. We have a really strong
 bench, and these folks will be at the track. We'll make the announcement later
 in the week.
 "To  me, it's past us now, and we'll move on. And I would have to say that the
 process was very fair and equitable that NASCAR was able to provide for Penske
 Racing and our whole team."
 Six days ago, the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel heard Penske's case.
 The  three-member  panel included former  NASCAR executive Paul Brooks, Pocono
 Raceway  President  and CEO Brandon  Igdalsky and Bowman Gray Stadium operator
 Dale  Pinilis. They  unanimously upheld the penalties. Penske then filed for a
 final appeal in front of Middlebrook.
 "I  think you all  know that I took full responsibility for the issue," Penske
 said.  "The  team reviews with  me things we're doing  when we're working in a
 gray  area, so  from my perspective, I said  we had to state our case. And the
 good  news is that the process within NASCAR is very fluid. The chance to come
 to  two different hearings  on your appeal I think is major in sports. And the
 fact  that  our facts could  be delineated specifically  and in detail I think
 made a big difference. To me, that's the important part of this appeal."
 When  NASCAR announced the penalties, it noted the No. 2 and No. 22 cars "were
 found  to  be in violation  of Sections 12-1;  12-4J and 20-12 (all suspension
 systems and components must be approved by NASCAR.
 "Prior  to  being used  in competition, all  suspension systems and components
 must  be submitted,  in a completed form/assembly, to the office of the NASCAR
 Competition  Administrator  for  consideration  of approval  and  approved  by
 NASCAR.  Each  such part may  thereafter be  used until NASCAR determines that
 such part is no longer eligible.
 "All suspension fasteners and mounting hardware must be made of solid magnetic
 steel.  All  front end and  rear end  suspension mounts with mounting hardware
 assembled  must have single round mounting holes that are the correct size for
 the  fastener  being used.  All front  end and rear  end suspension mounts and
 mounting  hardware  must not  allow movement or  realignment of any suspension
 component beyond normal rotation or suspension travel)."
 Prior  to  both of  Penske's appeals  being heard,  the suspended members were
 allowed  to participate in last month's race activities at Kansas Speedway and
 Richmond  International Raceway  as well  as  this past  weekend at  Talladega
 "NASCAR  is one  of the  few sports  in America  that has  a two-tier  appeals
 process,"  NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said. "We believe in the teams getting
 due  process when  it comes to rules  and regulations, and we believe that has
 happened again here today."
 05/07 17:37:38 ET