Posted: 4:56 p.m. Tuesday, May 7, 2013
By Jordan Bianchi
In what was the team's final appeal, Penske Racing came out ahead in the ruling issued Tuesday by National Stock Car Racing Chief Appellate Officer John Middlebrook.
Middlebrook reduced the suspensions of seven crewmembers from six races to two (plus the Sprint All-Star Race).
However, the points and fines initially placed on the Penske teams of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano remain in place including fines of $100,000 for their respective crew chiefs and the loss of 25 driver and owner points.
The suspended personnel, which include the crew chiefs, car chiefs and head engineer for Keselowski and Logano along with Penske's competition director, will miss the points races Saturday at Darlington Raceway and May 26 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
They will also be sidelined for the non-points All-Star Race May 18 also at Charlotte.
Penske was pleased with the outcome, calling the appeals process "fair and equitable" shortly after the decision had been rendered.
"It was a good outcome for everyone," Penske said. "... Obviously, I'm very happy with the outcome. This sport has been built on innovation and all of us try and innovate in areas not defined in the rule book."
The penalties originated from unapproved suspension parts and pieces found on the Penske cars of Keselowski and Logano during pre-race inspection April 13 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Four days later, NASCAR issued penalties, which were upheld last week by a three-member appeals board.
This is the fifth time in six cases Middlebrook, who became chief appellate officer in 2010, has reduced NASCAR-imposed penalties.
The most high-profile occurrence was last year when he overturned a six-week suspension for Chad Knaus and a 25-point penalty for Jimmie Johnson and the Hendrick Motorsports team after NASCAR declared the C-posts on the No. 48 to be illegal prior to the Daytona 500.
However, the $100,000 fine levied against Knaus was not rescinded.
Penske said the replacement crew chiefs for Keselowski and Logano will be named later in the week.
"I feel our bench is strong and that we have people that can step in for the two crew chiefs and the people who won't be here," he said. "To me, it's going to be business as usual at Darlington."