Penske team to face appeals panel

Penske Racing will present its case to the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel Wednesday morning at 9:30 a.m.

Prior to the Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway on April 14, NASCAR officials allege that both Penske Racing Fords violated Sections 12-1, 12-4J and 20-12 for using unapproved suspension systems and components and the assembly of those parts.

Penske is appealing the consequent penalties that were delivered three days later and include the loss of 25 owner and championship driver points for Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano. For crew chiefs Paul Wolfe and Todd Gordon, $100,000 fines for each, six-week suspensions and probation until Dec. 31. The car chiefs and team engineers for both squads along with competition director Travis Geisler are also facing six-week suspensions and probation until season’s end.

Roger Penske, who has been involved in racing for the last 55 years, seldom finds himself on the wrong side of the sanctioning body. Whether that will be taken into consideration with this appeal remains to be seen.

“In these types of situations you really just have to go through the process which obviously we’re doing,” Penske said. “To say you’re ‘optimistic,’ I don’t think that’s fair. What we’re doing, we want to be prepared and go through the process. Hopefully, when you sit down with people who have the responsibility to take on this ultimate rule or even an infraction or give us the opportunity to move on, we’ll have to deal with that.

“As far as I’m concerned after listening to (NASCAR vice president of competition) Robin Pemberton (Friday), he talks about working in areas not delineated in the rule book. We feel good about our position. But at the end of the day, we don’t make those decisions, NASCAR does.”

Pemberton said that it was NASCAR’s “job to just regulate the rule book.”

“In the rule book there are different facets and we’ve put parameters in that are weights, measures, heights, dimensions coordinates to build chassis and bodies, and it’s in quite detail,” Pemberton said. “So the teams know where they can and can’t go, and there are areas that they can work in.

“Those are the areas between the measurements where we do give both ends of it, whether it’s high or low or heavy or light.”

In Penske’s defense, he insists his teams weren’t cheating, just working in the gray areas of the NASCAR rule book. It should be clear on Wednesday whether the panel agrees with Penske or NASCAR’s interpretation of the rules.

Regardless, with this latest offense, Penske takes full responsibility for the situation.

“I was fully aware of anything that goes on with the team,” Penske said. “I would have to say the buck stops with me. I’ll take whatever punishment or whatever the outcome is and move on.”