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An appellate officer reduced the suspensions of seven employees on the team from six races to only two.
Joey Logano makes a pit stop during the Aaron’s 499 auto race at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Ala., Sunday.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
CONCORD, N.C. — Penske Racing celebrated a small victory Tuesday when NASCAR’s chief appellate officer issued a mixed ruling on penalties levied against the team. Although most everything was upheld, suspensions for seven key employees were reduced from six points races to two.
Team owner Roger Penske said he was “very happy with the outcome” following John Middlebrook’s decision.
“All of us have lost points, six, eight, 10, 12 for certain infractions over the years,” Penske said. “I don’t think this is something we worry about. Obviously we don’t worry about it. But from my perspective, the key thing is to have our people back at the race track, operating in full control. I think that’s most important. If we’re going to win, and be a leader and win a championship again, we’ve got plenty of time to do that.”
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. NASCAR alleged the parts were not approved, while Penske maintained the parts had been approved but the organization was applying them in a way that fell in a gray area of the rule book.
Penske still felt that way Tuesday: “I don’t think we were confused. As we interpreted the rules, these are undefined areas.”
“This sport has been built on innovation,” he said. “All of us have tried to innovate in areas not defined in the rule book. We were in that area.”
NASCAR docked Keselowski and Logano 25 points each, and fined crew chiefs Paul Wolfe and Todd Gordon $100,000 each. NASCAR also suspended Wolfe, Gordon, competition director Travis Geisler, car chiefs Jerry Kelley and Raymond Fox and engineers Brian Wilson and Samuel Stanley for six races.
All suspensions were reduced to two points races, plus next week’s All-Star race. They can return to work at Dover for the June 2 race. Penske did not immediately address how the organization would address the personnel issues at Darlington Raceway this weekend.
“The important thing is, this is over,” Penske said. “This has been two, three weeks of constant questions, lots of emotions. I feel our bench is strong and people can fill in for the crew chiefs.”
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