Apr 10, 2015; Fort Worth, TX, USA; A view of the garage stall of Sprint Cup Series driver Ryan Newman (31) during practice for the Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
On Thursday, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team Richard Childress Racing appeared before the National Motorsports Appeals Panel to plead its case regarding NASCAR penalties issued by NASCAR for tire tampering by RCR’s No. 31 team at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., in March.
The race team was successful in getting some of the penalties reduced. The fine assessed to the race team was decreased by $50,000 from $125,000 to $75,000. Also, the points penalties for car owner Richard Childress and driver Ryan Newman were reduced from 75 points to 50 points.
Suspensions and probation periods remained unchanged by the Panel. Crew chief Luke Lambert, tire technician James Bender and race engineer Philip Surgen were each suspended for six points-paying events and placed on probation until the end of the year.
Richard Childress Racing has an additional appeal option — making its case to the Final Appeals Officer. According to a statement from the race team on Thursday evening, it is undetermined whether or not a final appeal will be made.
“I’d like to thank the Appeals Panel for taking the time to hear our appeal today,” Childress said. “While they decided to reduce the penalties to the minimum penalties for a P5 violation, I am disappointed that the entire penalty was not overturned given the facts we presented.
“In order for the team to move forward and focus our efforts on the upcoming races, Luke, Phil and James will begin serving their suspensions this weekend at Bristol. Veteran crew chief Todd Parrott will fill in as crew chief for this weekend’s race.
“We are still discussing our options and have not yet determined whether to appeal the penalties to the Final Appeals Officer.”
In its original penalty announcement, NASCAR cited violations of the following sections of the 2015 NASCAR rule book:
"12.1: Actions detrimental to stock car racing20.16: Wheels and tiresA. Any device, modification, or procedure to the tire or wheel, including the valve stem hardware, that is used to release pressure, beyond normal pressure adjustments, from the tire and/or inner shield, will not be permitted.20.16.2: TiresF. Modifications to the tires, by treatment or any other means, will not be permitted.126.96.36.199.2: Minimum P5 Penalty Options (includes all four points below):A. Loss of 50 championship driver and owner points, regardless of whether the violation occurred during a Championship race or notB. $75,000-$125,000 fineC. Suspension for the next six series Championship Races, plus any non-championship races or special events which might occur during that time period, for the crew chief and any other team members as determined by NASCARD. Probation through the end of the calendar year for all suspended members, or for a six-month period following the issuance of the penalty notice if that period spans across two consecutive seasons188.8.131.52.3: P5 Level infractions detected during post-race inspection:If the infraction is detected during post-race inspection, then the following penalty elements will be added to those listed previously in this section:A. Loss of an additional 25 Championship driver and owner points; regardless of whether it was a Championship Race or notB. Loss of an additional $50,000"
RCR did not dispute that the tires taken from the team during the Auto Club Speedway race were modified. Instead, the race team disputed the meaning of “post-race inspection.” The original penalty handed down from NASCAR stated that the violations were discovered during “post-race inspection.” While the tires were examined by a third-party after the race, Richard Childress Racing argued that the tires were taken during the race, not “post-race.”
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