Penske Racing has been hard hit by penalties for a technical infringement at last weekend's Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Both the #2 car of reigning Cup champion Brad Keselowski and the #22 of his team mate Joey Logano failed pre-race inspection and were required to change rear-end components on the car. The delays caused Logano to be late lining up for the race and forced him to start from the back of the grid, although he still fought back to finish in fifth place by the end of the NRA 500.
On Wednesday, NASCAR announced that both cars had been found to be in breach of Sections 12-1, 12-4J and 20-12 of the Cup series rulebook, which includes fitting new suspension components to cars without having previously submitted them for approval to NASCAR scrutineers, and which must not allow in-race movement or realignment of the parts beyond normal usage tolerances.
As a result of NASCAR's findings, Keselowski and Logano both lose 25 Cup championship points which in Keselowski's case will drop him from second to fifth place in the standings, while Logano will fall from ninth to 14th. The #2 and #22 also lose the same number of car owner points apiece for Roger Penske.
More seriously for the teams, the two crew chiefs involved - Paul Wolfe and Todd Gordon - have been suspended from competition for the next six Cup races and the non-championship Sprint All-Star exhibition event. Keselowski had spoken out on Monday about his fears that Wolfe faced a lengthy suspension, and that he feared for his 2013 championship hopes without him.
Both Wolfe and Gordon have additionally been fined $100,000. The car chiefs, team engineers and team managers for both the #2 and #22 were also all handed six race suspensions but escaped fines. All those involved have additionally been put on NASCAR suspension until the end of 2013.
However Keselowski himself has escaped being penalised further for his outspoken comments against officiating at last weekend's event (see separate story
"No, we're not," said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France on Monday when asked whether Keselowski faced sanctions for his blistering remarks. "That's the beauty of NASCAR, we do allow the drivers to express themselves in that way, even if they say things that we would disagree with. And I would certainly disagree with everything that he said."
There have been rumours circulating around the paddock that NASCAR took a closer-than-usual look at the two Penske cars at Texas after being 'tipped off' to something unusual by one of the team's competitors, as-yet unconfirmed and not identified. Hendrick Motorsports' Jimmie Johnson was parked next to Keselowski in the garage at Texas while Logano had another Hendrick driver, Jeff Gordon, as his own neighbour for the weekend.