CONCORD, N.C. — Team Penske lost its final appeal hearing Tuesday morning over the March 19 penalty to Brad Keselowski’s team, and crew chief Paul Wolfe will have to miss this weekend’s Cup race at Kansas Speedway as part of his three-race suspension.
This will be the last race Wolfe will miss. He previously sat out races at Auto Club Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.
NASCAR penalized Team Penske, Wolfe and Keselowski after the No. 2 Ford failed weights and measurements on the Laser Inspection Station following the March 19 race at Phoenix Raceway. NASCAR docked Keselowski and the team 35 points, suspended Wolfe for three races and fined him $65,000.
Car owner Roger Penske was present at Tuesday’s hearing at the NASCAR R&D Center. Among those with him included Travis Geisler, competition director at Team Penske. NASCAR was represented by Chad Little, managing director of technical inspection and officiating.
Penske had said said after Keselowski’s win at Martinsville that the team was challenging the consistency of NASCAR procedures. The team is claiming that it received only one attempt to pass the post-race inspection at the LIS platform while others have gotten multiple attempts.
“We are disappointed in the outcome of today’s final appeal hearing,” a Team Penske statement read. “While we appreciate the process that NASCAR and the National Motorsports Appeals Panel has put in place to resolve issues like this, we felt like the penalties received following the March event at Phoenix were unjust. Brian Wilson will once again serve as Brad Keselowski’s crew chief this weekend at Kansas Speedway. We’re happy to finally have this behind us as the No. 2 team focuses its efforts on another Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship.”
Tuesday’s decision was made by Roger Werner, chairman for the Automobile Competition Committee for the United States (ACCUS), the national authority of the FIA for the United States. The Automobile Competition Committee of the U.S. includes the six major motorsports sanctioning organizations in the U.S.: IMSA, IndyCar, NASCAR, NHRA, SCCA and USAC.
Werner served in place of Bryan Moss, the Final Appeals Officer, who was unavailable.
This hearing was to have been held April 25, but was pushed back to April 26 when the Bristol race was delayed a day by rain to April 24. The April 26 hearing was rescheduled again because Moss was sick.
Kansas marks the second consecutive weekend that both Penske Cup teams will be without both crew chiefs. Todd Gordon, crew chief for Joey Logano, will sit out this weekend as the final race of his two-race suspension for a rear suspension not properly in place. The infraction was discovered after Logano won the April 30 race at Richmond International Raceway.
National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer Statement
May 9, 2017
Today the National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer, Mr. Roger Werner, heard and considered the appeal of an L1-level penalty issued on March 22 to Paul Wolfe (crew chief), Team Penske (owner) and Brad Keselowski (driver), relative to the No. 2 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team at Phoenix International Raceway.
The penalty concerns the following sections in the 2017 NASCAR Rule Book: Sections 188.8.131.52.2 Post-Race General Inspection Measurements.
The original penalty assessed: Wolfe was fined $65,000 and suspended for three Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points events; Team Penske was assessed with the loss of 35 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series owner points; Keselowski was assessed with the loss of 35 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver points; and the race finish was encumbered.
Upon hearing the appeal, the National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer made the following decisions:
1. The Appellants violated the Rules set forth in the Penalty Notice;
2. That the decision of the National Motorsports Appeals Panel upholding the original Penalty that was issued by NASCAR is affirmed and upheld.
The decision of the National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer is final.
PENSKE PENALTY TIMELINE
- March 19: NASCAR announces Brad Keselowski’s No. 2 Ford failed “weights and measurements” on the Laser Inspection Station after the race at Phoenix Raceway.
- March 22: NASCAR docks team/driver 35 points, suspends Paul Wolfe 3 races, fines $65,000. Penske says it is weighing whether to appeal while evaluating the area of the car (which had arrived back from Phoenix that day).
- March 25: Fontana weekend begins with Wolfe sitting out in favor of Brian Wilson.
- March 29: Penske announces it will appeal penalty, and NASCAR grants a deferment to allow Wolfe on the pit box for Martinsville Speedway.
- April 2: Keselowski wins at Martinsville with Wolfe as crew chief. In the team’s first expansive comments, Roger Penske tells Marty Snider his Phoenix appeal is on the grounds of consistency and fairness by NASCAR.
- April 6: A week after the Penske appeal filing, NASCAR sets a hearing date of April 12, which means Wolfe remains atop the pit box that weekend at Texas, where Keselowski is sixth.
- April 12: Penske loses its appeal before the National Motorsports Appeals Panel of Rick Crawford, Hunter Nickell and Dale Pinilis. The team announces that it will take the case to Final Appeals Officer Bryan Moss.
- April 17: After a weekend off for Easter, NASCAR schedules the final appeal for Tuesday, April 25. Penske is granted further deferment of Wolfe’s suspense at Bristol, where Keselowski finishes 34th.
- April 24: After the race at Bristol is postponed a day by rain, the final appeal is rescheduled from the morning of Tuesday, April 25 to the evening of Wednesday, April 26.
- April 26: Because of an illness to Final Appeals Officer Bryan Moss, the final appeal hearing is rescheduled to 7:45 a.m. on May 9 – after the races at Richmond and Talladega. Penske elects to bring Wolfe to Richmond, where Keselowski leads 110 laps and finishes second.
- May 2: Penske asks to end Wolfe’s deferment and bring Brian Wilson as interim crew chief to Talladega ahead of the May 9 hearing. NASCAR grants the request.
- May 9: Final Appeals Officer Roger Werner rules that Team Penske violated the rules and upholds the original penalty.