NASCAR lowers boom on Penske teams
NASCAR hammered the two Cup teams from Penske Racing as it handed out penalties over three series on Wednesday.
The sanctioning body fined two Penske crew chiefs — Paul Wolfe and Todd Gordon — $100,000 each, suspended them and five other crewmen for the next six points races and the non-points All-Star race, and took 25 driver points and owner points from both cars.
The penalties were levied for unapproved rear suspension pieces found on the cars of defending Cup champion Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano during inspection before Saturday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway.
NASCAR officials confiscated the parts and made the team’s replace them before Keselowski and Logano were allowed to race. Logano passed inspection and made it to the track after the rest of the field rolled off the grid.
Wolfe is the crew chief for Keselowski, while Gordon is the crew chief for Logano. Also suspended were car chief Jerry Kelly, engineer Brian Wilson and manager Travis Geisler on Keselowski’s team and car chief Raymond Fox and engineer Samuel Stanley on Logano’s team.
Penske Racing issued a statement saying the penalties will be appealed and that it had no other comment. The crewmen can continue to work at races during the appeals process.
The point deduction drops Keselowski from second place and nine points behind leader Jimmie Johnson to fifth and 34 points behind. Logano falls from ninth and 62 behind to 15th and 87 behind.
The Penske team was not the only one penalized in the Cup Series. Martin Truex Jr.’s crew chief Chad Johnson was fined $25,000 and placed on probation until June 5 as a result of Truex’s car not meeting minimum height requirements after the Texas race. Truex and car owner Michael Waltrip also lost six points each.
The team issued the following statement: “Michael Waltrip Racing is sensitive to working within the guidelines of NASCAR policy. This infraction clearly occurred as a result of a malfunction caused by race conditions. Therefore, we will not appeal. We thank NASCAR for providing a fair and equitable platform for all of its competitors and respect its decisions.”
In the Truck series, driver Ron Hornaday Jr. was fined $25,000 and docked 25 points for wrecking Darrell Wallace Jr. under caution during Sunday’s race at Rockingham.
NTS Motorsports of Kernersville, which fields the trucks driven by Hornaday, issued a statement saying it agrees with the penalties, will not appeal and had no other comment.
In the NASCAR Southern Modified Series, driver J.R. Bertuccio was fined $300, suspended until the fine is paid and put on probation for the rest of the year for fighting and not following instructions of officials during a race Saturday at South Boston, Va.