=== 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