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Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Updated: April 18, 10:58 AM ET
NASCAR punishes Penske drivers

By David Newton
ESPN.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- NASCAR came down heavy Wednesday with penalties from inspections last weekend at Texas, suspending four members of defending Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski's Penske Racing team and three from teammate Joey Logano's team.

Keselowski and Logano were docked 25 points each, as were their car owners. Their crew chiefs -- Paul Wolfe for Keselowski and Todd Gordon for Logano -- were suspended for six point races and the All-Star Race and fined $100,000 each. The team engineers for each team, as well as team manager Travis Geisler, also were suspended for six point races and placed on probation until Dec. 31.

Penske Racing immediately announced plans to appeal the first major infraction with the new "Gen 6" car, which means all those suspended will remain with their teams for this weekend's race at Kansas Speedway and future races until that process is complete.

The organization said it would not comment. Keselowski fell from second in the Cup standings and nine points behind five-time champion Jimmie Johnson to fourth and 34 back. Logano fell from ninth and 62 out of first to 14th and out of a top-10-guaranteed spot in the Chase.

That Penske plans to appeal comes as no surprise. Keselowski lashed out at the governing body's integrity following the race for confiscating the rear housing in his and Logano's cars prior to the start of the race. He also was critical of NASCAR for delaying his team in inspection a week earlier at Martinsville and then penalizing the team for pitting outside the pit stall during the race.

"There's so much stuff going on, you guys have no idea -- you have no [expletive] idea what's going on," Keselowski told reporters after the Texas race. "I can tell you there is no team in this garage with the integrity of the 2 team.

"The way we've been treated over the last seven days is absolute shameful. I feel like we've been targeted over the last seven days more than I've ever seen a team targeted in my life."

NASCAR made it clear going back to last season that it would not tolerate infractions in that area. A memo was sent to teams addressing that matter prior to the September Richmond race.

"All it does is reconfirm the parameters that were originally set," Series director John Darby told ESPN.com last year. "It's not a new rule. The only changes from the rule are the parts and pieces they're using. The one component that was added was simply the fact we would look at the setups and alignments postrace as well as pre-race."

Darby said at the time NASCAR would step in only if teams took adjustments to the rear end too far.

"I won't say that they have, but they're all getting really close,'' he said. "It is indeed a fact where we've just drawn a line in the sand."

NASCAR chairman Brian France told the Fox Business Network on Monday that Keselowski would not be fined for his comments.

"That's the beauty of NASCAR," France said. "We do allow the drivers to express themselves in that way, even if they say things that we would disagree with. And I obviously disagree with everything he said."

According to NASCAR's statement, the infraction by the Penske teams violated the rule which states suspension systems and components must be approved by the governing body.

"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," the rule says.

"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."

The parts used by the Penske teams were not submitted for approval. ESPN.com was told the major issue was the movement of the suspension component beyond its normal rotation or travel.

NASCAR made it clear going back to last season that it would not tolerate infractions in that area.

Also Wednesday, Martin Truex Jr. was given a six-point penalty because his second-place car at Texas was found in a postrace inspection to be too low. Michael Waltrip Racing said the infraction was the result of a malfunction caused by race conditions and will not appeal the penalty.

Truex fell from a tie in 16th place to 19th.

In the Truck Series, four-time champion Ron Hornaday Jr. was docked 25 points and fined $25,000 for wrecking Darrell Wallace Jr. under caution Friday night. Hornaday is on probation until June 5 and told ESPN.com he does not plan to appeal. The penalty knocked Hornaday from fourth to 13th in the standings.