Penske teams handed stiff penalties
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP)
NASCAR cracked down on Penske Racing on Wednesday, suspending seven crew members of defending Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski and teammate Joey Logano and levying $200,000 in fines for bringing unapproved parts to the Texas Motor Speedway for last weekend's race.
The two drivers and their car owners were each docked 25 championship points, dropping Keselowski from second to fourth in the Cup standings and Logano from ninth to 14th.
Keselowski crew chief Paul Wolfe and Logano crew chief Todd Gordon were each fined $100,000 and placed on probation for the rest of the calendar year. Also suspended for the next six championship points races were Travis Geisler, who serves as team manager for both cars, along with the individual car chiefs and team engineers of both the Nos. 2 and 22 cars.
Penske Racing vowed to appeal.
''Penske Racing will appeal utilizing the appropriate NASCAR process,'' the team said. ''We have no further comment at this time.''
NASCAR inspectors confiscated the original rear-end housing from Keselowski's No. 2 Ford and Logano's No. 22 before Saturday night's race. It caused a pre-race scramble for both teams after NASCAR inspectors confiscated the original rear-end housing from Keselowski's No. 2 Ford and Logano's No. 22. Logano was late to the grid because of the additional inspections and he had to start at the back of the field. He finished fifth and Keselowski was ninth.
Keselowski was livid following the race,.
''The things I've seen over the last seven days have me questioning everything that I believe in, and I'm not happy about it,'' Keselowski said. ''I have one good thing to say, and that was my team and the effort they put in today, in fighting back with the absolute (expletive) that's been the last seven days in this garage area.''
NASCAR said both Penske cars used parts that had not been approved before getting to Texas.
With the team manager and the engineers of both cars also being suspended, the penalties against the Penske teams went further than last season after Jimmie Johnson's No. 48 car failed the opening-day inspection at the Daytona 500. Five-time championship winning crew chief Chad Knaus and the car chief for that Hendrick Motorsports car were suspended for six races.
Knaus still had to pay a $100,000 fine, but the bulk of the penalties levied against him and the car chief were later overturned by NASCAR's chief appellate officer, the highest level of appeal. Johnson also got back 25 points that had been docked.
Martin Truex Jr., who finished second at Texas behind Kyle Busch, was also punished Wednesday for having a front end that was too low. He and owner Michael Waltrip were each docked six points and crew chief Chad Johnston was fined $25,000 and placed on probation until June 5. The points deduction dropped Truex from 16th to 19th in points heading into this weekend's race at Kansas.
Keselowski, who has six top-10 finishes, got a penalty a week earlier at Martinsville for pitting outside his stall. He still disputes that.
''There's so much stuff going on. You guys have no idea ... what's going on,'' Keselowski said Saturday night. ''I could tell you there is nobody, no team in this garage with the integrity of the 2 team. And the way we've been treated over the last seven days is absolutely shameful.''
NASCAR didn't punish Keselowski for his post-race comments. Keselowski spent Tuesday at the White House, where President Barack Obama honored him and his crew for winning the Sprint Cup championship.
NASCAR also fined Ron Hornaday Jr. $25,000 and docked him 25 points for spinning Darrell Wallace Jr. under caution in Sunday's Truck series race at Rockingham.