May 2, 2013

Auto Racing Notebook: NASCAR penalties are upheld

The Associated Press

CONCORD, N.C. - A three-member appeals board upheld NASCAR's sweeping penalties against Penske Racing on Wednesday for a failed inspection last month at Texas and the team owner, Roger Penske, vowed to take the ruling to the series' highest level.

The three-member National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel unanimously upheld all penalties levied against the organization, including the defending champion, Brad Keselowski, and Joey Logano over confiscated parts in the rear suspensions of the drivers' Fords. The NASCAR chief appellate officer, John Middlebrook, will hear Penske's final appeal Tuesday.

"Obviously a disappointing outcome with the panel," Penske said. "We have a good case and we are allowed under the NASCAR rules in the rule book to appeal this to the next level. We've notified NASCAR that we will appeal this ruling today to the next level."

Penske declined to discuss much of the case because the team will argue again Tuesday before Middlebrook. But he's previously said the team was working in a gray area of the rule book when NASCAR confiscated the parts. NASCAR docked both drivers 25 points, fined the two crew chiefs $100,000 and suspended seven team members.

"It's clear we have a process, and I am better off to wait to see that conclude and at that point I can make any other personal comments I want to make about this," Penske said. "All I can say about the process is that I think it's fair and equitable and we had the opportunity to explain the case and situation in detail, and obviously the information we were able to demonstrate to the panel, they determined they would uphold the appeal."

The decision wasn't surprising. Since NASCAR began keeping records in 1999, the panel has upheld 106 of 150 appeals.

Keselowski seemed to hint he'd already accepted his fate when he tweeted earlier Wednesday from a tire test at Indianapolis: "Inner peace is easily achievable once you realize that sometimes all you can do is hope for the best and prepare for the worst. (hashtag)Appeal."

Middlebrook, a former General Motors executive, heard two cases last year. He reduced similar penalties against Hendrick crew chief Chad Knaus after the initial appeals board upheld his punishment. Middlebrook lifted the suspension and reinstated Jimmie Johnson's points, but left intact the $100,000 fine NASCAR levied against Knaus for altering sheet metal before inspection at the Daytona 500.

INDYCAR: Panther DRR confirmed Wednesday that it will shut down after the Indianapolis 500 later this month.

The team has struggled to find enough sponsorship money. The team said Oriol Servia would drive the No. 22 in this weekend's Sao Paulo Indy 300 and the Indianapolis 500 on May 26, but there were no plans to race again this season.

 

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