Penske NASCAR drivers take points hit
NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski and Penske Racing teammate Joey Logano have both been hit with 25-point championship points penalties for technical violations discovered before last Saturday night’s race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Another driver to cop a points penalty was Michael Waltrip Racing’s Martin Truex Jr., who lost six championships points for his car being too low after last week’s event, while crew chief Chad Johnston was fined US$25,000 and placed on probation until 5 June.
On the Penske side NASCAR also handed out crew suspensions and fines with Keselowski’s crew chief Paul Wolfe copping a US$100,000 hit and placed on the sidelines for the next six Sprint Cup events. Car chief Jerry Kelley, team engineer Brian Wilson and Penske competition director Travis Geisler have been suspended for the same duration. Logano’s crew chief Todd Gordon was also fined US$100,000 and suspended six weeks. Car chief Raymond Fox and team engineer Samuel Stanley were suspended for the same length of time as well.
The steep penalties levied against the Penske organisation stem from rear-end housings in the #2 and #22 which failed pre-race inspection. NASCAR confiscated the parts in question, forcing a frantic changeover that had the Penske crews rushing to get the vehicles through inspection before the race began. They made it, although Logano had to start at the rear of the field because NASCAR determined his car was not on the starting grid in time.
According to NASCAR, both Penske cars were found to be in violation of rule book sections 12-1, 12-4J and 20-12, which mandate that all suspension systems and components must be approved by NASCAR. Those sections also state that approval parts cannot be used after NASCAR deems them ineligible for competition, and also stipulate what suspension parts and hardware must be made of (solid magnetic steel), the correct size of round mounting holes, and limitations on movement or realignment of suspension parts beyond normal rotation or travel.
The following statement was released from Penske Racing. ‘Penske Racing received communication today from NASCAR regarding penalties they have issued against the No. 2 and No. 22 teams. Penske Racing will appeal utilizing the appropriate NASCAR process. We have no further comment at this time.’
With Penske Racing appealing the decision by NASCAR, all suspended crew members can work at the track while the appeals are being heard. However, the point deductions go into effect immediately.
The penalties mean both Penske drivers will take a serious hit in the Sprint Cup standings. Keselowski left Texas second, nine points behind leader Jimmie Johnson. After the 25-point penalty, he drops to fifth. Logano departed Fort Worth in ninth place, 62 behind Johnson, but with the penalty he falls to 15th.