Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Partial win for Penske in NASCAR penalties appeal
CONCORD, N.C. -- NASCAR's chief appeals officer issued a mixed ruling for Penske Racing on Tuesday, upholding fines and points penalties for parts infractions at Texas but reducing sweeping suspensions from the next six races to the next two.
Team owner Roger Penske seemed satisfied.
"All of us have lost points, six, eight, 10, for infractions over the years," Penske said after the decision by John Middlebrook was announced. "I don't think this is something we worry about. The key thing is having our people back at the race track. I think that's most important."
NASCAR inspectors confiscated parts from the rear suspensions of the cars of defending champion Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano before the April 13 race at Texas. Penske said the parts were approved but the organization was working in a gray area of the rule book in how they were used.
Penske still felt that way Tuesday: "I don't think we were confused. As we interpreted the rules, these are undefined areas."
The team was hit with $200,000 in fines and seven Penske team members, including two crew chiefs, were suspended. Keselowski and Logano were docked 25 points each, dropping them in the standings. A three-member appeals panel upheld the penalties last week, but Penske appealed. Middlebrook's decision is binding.
The suspended crew members will be able to return at Dover for the June 2 race.
"The important thing is, this is over," Penske said. "This has been 2-3 weeks of constant questions, lots of emotions. I feel our bench is strong and people can fill in for the crew chiefs."
Middlebrook, a former General Motors executive who is paid $1 per year by NASCAR, heard two cases last year. He reduced similar penalties against Hendrick Motorsports crew chief Chad Knaus after the initial appeals board upheld his punishment.
He lifted the suspension and reinstated Jimmie Johnson's points, but left intact the $100,000 fine NASCAR levied against Knaus for altering sheet metal on the car before inspection at the season-opening Daytona 500.
Middlebrook also upheld all penalties on Richard Childress Racing for modifications made to Paul Menard's frame rails.