JGR was found to have an underweight component in the engine of Matt Kenseth's race-winning #20 at Kansas Speedway in April, and as a result NASCAR imposed a 50 points penalty for Matt Kenseth, a six-race suspension and $200,000 fine for crew chief Jason Ratcliff and a six-race suspension of Joe Gibb's owner license for the car meaning it can't score any owner points during that time.
JGR does not dispute that a single connecting rod in the engine was underweight by three grams - about the weight of three paperclips - but says that the penalties are too severe especially as the engine is in effect a sealed 'plug-and-play' unit delivered to the team by engine suppliers Toyota Racing Development from their west coast assembly plant. TRD has already accepted the blame for the rules violation and said it was down to a failure to adequately quality check components supplied to them by a third party vendor.
Today's appeal takes place before a three-person panel selected from the 49 members of the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel. Presentations are made separately to the panel by the team and by NASCAR with a judgement handed down at the end of the day. The hearing starts at 9pm EST (2pm BST) and typically takes five to eight hours depending on the complexity of the issues and the evidence being considered.
As Penske did before them, JGR can take the matter to NASCAR's chief appellate officer if the initial appeal is unsuccessful. Middlebrook, a former General Motors executive, serves for a nominal $1 a year and his decision is final and not subject to further appeal.