Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Penske appeal to be heard May 1
By David Newton
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Penske Racing's appeal of penalties issued to reigning Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano will be held on May 1.
The appeal will be heard by three members selected from the National Stock Car Racing Commission.
Keselowski and Logano were docked 25 points each when NASCAR confiscated what were deemed unapproved rear end housing parts during inspection before the April 13 Texas race.
Their crew chiefs, car chiefs and head engineers -- as well as competition director Travis Geisler -- were suspended for six points races and the May 18 All-Star race.
The crew chiefs also were fined $100,000 each.
The suspensions were put on hold pending the outcome of the appeal, which means the crews for both drivers will be intact for Saturday night's race at Richmond International Raceway as they were on Sunday at Kansas Speedway.
If the panel stands by NASCAR's ruling, Penske Racing has the option to go to the final appeal stage in which chief appellate officer John Middlebrook makes the ruling after hearing from both sides.
NASCAR has referred to the confiscated parts as unapproved because they were altered to move in a way that officials have told teams was off-limits.
Penske Racing says the parts were approved and will argue that the organization simply was working in a gray area that other teams have explored. Team officials also believe the penalties were too stiff for parts that were never used in a race.
"It's a reach based on alleged infractions that I saw,'' Walt Czarnecki, the vice chairman of Penske Racing, told ESPN.com. "I haven't heard NASCAR's rationale as to why.''
Logano said during a Tuesday during a press event promoting the May 18 All-Star race and May 26 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway the teams are in the preliminary stages for preparing for what will happen if the suspensions stand.
"We need to prepare for the worst and hope for the best,'' he said. "We'll bring in some extra people [at Richmond] to have some overlap on our team to prepare if the appeal doesn't go the way we expect it to. We need to always do that.
"Penske racing has a lot of depth in the company. They're very strong. We'll get through this.''
Logano fell from ninth in points to 14th after the penalty. He fell to 20th after a hard crash on Sunday at Kansas left him with a 39th-place finish.
Keselowski finished sixth at Kansas to move from fourth to third in the standings.
"The teams are really dealing with it well,'' Logano said. "They understand that we want to win races and push as hard as we can to win races. Everyone's been really supportive of Penske Racing from the top to bottom.
"I'm glad to see that and no one rolling over and wanting to push harder and still wanting those wins. That's what makes a strong organization in my eyes.''