RCR's tire penalty upheld in final appeal

Concord, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Richard Childress Racing lost its final appeal of penalties assessed by NASCAR to Ryan Newman's No. 31 team for altered tires used on Newman's car in the March 22 race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.

RCR presented its position to National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer Bryan Moss on Wednesday. The hearing, held at NASCAR's Research and Development Center, lasted roughly nine hours. Moss, the former president of Gulfstream Aerospace Corp., noted in his decision that "Based on a preponderance of evidence, the Appellants (RCR's No. 31 team) violated the Rules," and "Based on a preponderance of evidence, the National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer upholds the penalty as amended by the National Motorsports Appeals Panel."

On March 31, NASCAR handed down the severe penalties to the 31 team following a tire audit conducted after the race in Fontana. The infractions resulted in a P5 level penalty on NASCAR's six-level penalty scale.

Luke Lambert, the crew chief for the No. 31, received a six-race suspension and was placed on probation until Dec. 31 as well as fined $125,000. James Bender, the team's tire technician, and Philip Surgen, the team engineer, were also suspended for six races and put on probation for the remainder of the year.

Newman had been penalized with a loss of 75 points in the driver championship standings, while Richard Childress was docked the same number of points in the owners' standings.

The National Motorsports Appeal Panel heard RCR's initial appeal and upheld the penalties on April 16, but the panel reduced the loss of points from 75 to 50 for both driver Newman and car owner Childress and lowered crew chief Lambert's fine from $125,000 to $75,000.

The suspension period for Lambert, Bender and Surgen includes: Kansas (May 9), Charlotte (May 24), Dover (May 31), Pocono (June 7), Michigan (June 14) and Sonoma (June 28) as well as the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race at Charlotte (May 16). They are eligible to return on the first weekend of July at Daytona.

Todd Parrott will fill-in for Lambert as Newman's crew chief, beginning with this weekend's race at Kansas.

"We do not agree with the final appeal ruling," Richard Childress Racing said in a statement. "We feel we had a compelling case and still feel we were in the right and the facts presented today would have proved that. We do appreciate the opportunity to be heard.

"We stand behind our suspended team members and look forward to their return. We will now move on and continue or goals of winning races and making the Chase for the Champion."

Newman is currently 14th in the Sprint Cup Series point standings.