Sign in to comment!

Menu
Home

NASCAR

CUP: Penalty Changes Boost Penske

1128006_article_img_large2

Although the fines and points penalties NASCAR levied against Penske Racing were upheld on appeal Tuesday, the team scored a significant victory when NASCAR chief appellate officer John Middlebrook trimmed the suspensions of seven key Penske personnel.

Middlebrook, after hearing Penske’s final appeal in a three-hour session at the NASCAR Research and Development Center, cut team and crew suspensions from six races to two, plus the upcoming Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The team members – crew chiefs Paul Wolfe and Todd Gordon, car chiefs Jerry Kelley and Raymond Fox III, engineers Samuel Stanley and Brian Wilson and competition director Travis Geisler – will miss point races at Darlington and Charlotte, and will return for the Dover race June 2. The team members have continued to work while the suspensions were under appeal.

The team was penalized for rear-end housing violations at Texas Motor Speedway.

Left intact were penalties of 25 points for the Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano teams and $200,000 in fines.

Although team owner Roger Penske has more-than-adequate employees who can fill in for those on suspension, the fact that the front-line team members will miss only two points races is of major significance as Keselowski seeks a second championship and Logano aims to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Penske said Tuesday the trimming of the suspensions was more important than possible reductions in the point penalties or the fines.

Keselowski is fifth in points and Logano is 18th after 10 races.

Middlebrook’s ruling is also significant in areas beyond the immediate positives for the Penske team.

Middlebrook has reduced penalties in five of six appeals he has heard. Particularly after major penalties, it seems virtually certain in the future that teams will use the appeal process to reach Middlebrook’s desk.

The Penske appeal was denied last week by a NASCAR appeals panel, the first level of challenge after penalties.

NATIONAL STOCK CAR RACING CHIEF APPELLATE OFFICER STATEMENT

On May 7, 2013 the Chief Appellate Officer heard and considered the appeal of the penalties from the No. 2 and No. 22 Penske Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams. These penalties stemmed from pre-race inspection for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Texas Motor Speedway April 13.

The penalties concern Sections 12-1: Actions detrimental to stock car racing; 12-4J: Any determination by NASCAR Officials that race equipment used in the event does not conform to the NASCAR rules detailed in Section 20 of the NASCAR rule book, or has not been approved by NASCAR prior to the event; 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 component normal rotation or suspension travel.

The original penalties assessed to the No. 2 team were:

• Crew chief (Paul Wolfe): $100,000 fine; suspended from NASCAR until the completion of the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship points events (plus the non-points NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race); placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31;

• Car chief Jerry Kelley, team engineer Brian Wilson and competition director Travis Geisler (serves as competition director for both the No. 2 and No. 22 cars): Suspended from NASCAR until the completion of the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship points events (plus the non-points NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race); placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31;

• Car owner Roger Penske: Loss of 25 championship owner points;

• Driver Brad Keselowski: Loss of 25 championship driver points.

The original penalties assessed to the No. 22 team were:

• Crew chief (Todd Gordon): $100,000 fine; suspended from NASCAR until the completion of the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship points events (plus the non-points NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race); placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31;

• Car chief Raymond Fox and team engineer Samuel Stanley: Suspended from NASCAR until the completion of the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship points events (plus the non-points NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race); placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31;

• Car owner Walt Czarnecki: Loss of 25 championship owner points;

• Driver Joey Logano: Loss of 25 championship driver points.

The results of the Chief Appellate Officer hearing were:

• Upholding the fines and points penalties that were originally assessed.

• Reducing the suspensions of the seven team members from six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship points events (plus the non-points NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race) to two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship points events (plus the non-points NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race).

The seven team members in question will be suspended for the next three upcoming NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race weekends at Darlington Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway. They will return for the race weekend at Dover International Speedway. They remain on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31.

“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,” said John Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Officer. “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.”

John Middlebrook – Chief Appellate Officer

Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 31 years. He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.