8 May 2013
Partial appeal success for Penske
"He felt the fines and penalties were overreaching and made the decision to reduce it," said Penske of Middlebrook's decision. "It was a good outcome for everyone. We're going to move on."
It still leaves the team having to find replacement personnel for the next two Cup races, although the appeals process did at least delay the suspensions and allow Penske to make contingency plans.
"We have a game plan," Penske insisted. "Hopefully you'll see people you know at the racetrack. We have a deep bench."
Penske added that the original rules violation had been because the team were seeking to innovate in an area of the rules left somewhat undefined and untested by recent revisions of the regulations that sought to address many how teams used rear-end "skew" last season to achieve extra speed. A new regulation for 2013 states that rear suspension mounts "must not allow movement or realignment beyond normal rotation or suspension travel."
"As we interpreted the rules, these are undefined areas," said Penske, dismissing the suggestion that there had been any confusion on the regulations on the part of the team. "Obviously with all the innovation, the NASCAR rulebook is thicker this year than last year, because we have great guys in the garage are that are innovating, and that's the business we're in."
"This is an innovative sport," he said. "I can tell you the other 42 cars are innovating every day. We'll continue to look at areas we can work in if we feel they are within the rulebook. Obviously, I don't want to get to the edge as NASCAR felt we were in this particular situation, but we've got to be competitive in order to win. I think there are very creative guys that we compete against every Sunday in NASCAR."
Responding on behalf of the organisers, NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said "We made it pretty clear with the rear end housing last year, the science project had gone far enough," adding: "That's something we felt the enforcement behind the penalty was warranted."
Asked why he felt the outcome this weekend had been more favourable for his team than the original appeal, Roger Penske pointed out it was the first time that both sides had sat down to present at the same time rather than separately, and been able to discuss the situation in more depth.
"The fact that our facts could be delineated specifically in detail, I think made a big difference with me," he said. "I think the process is good. You don't go to the Supreme Court on the first day. I'm happy with the outcome.
"The most important thing is this is over. This has been two or three weeks of constant questions. There are lots of emotions from the team members and the media," Penske added. "I just want to move on. I've learned a lot in the process and am sure the team has."
Joe Gibbs Penalty appeal to be heard Wednesday
One penalty hearing down, another still to go: Joe Gibbs Racing might be taking heart at Penske's success in having sanctions tempered, as it goes into an appeal hearing of its own on Wednesday at NASCAR's Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina.
Tagged as: suspension , Texas , Joe Gibbs Racing , Joey Logano , Roger Penske , Matt Kenseth , Brad Keselowski , Penske Racing , appeal , Kansas , Paul Wolfe , John Middlebrook , Todd Gordon , Jason Ratcliff
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