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RCR To Appeal Penalties

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, April 9 2015
Ryan Newman says he and his RCR team are not quite there yet. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

Penalties issued to Ryan Newman to be appealed. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

FORT WORTH, Texas – NASCAR team-owner Richard Childress has informed the sanctioning body it plans to appeal the penalties levied against driver Ryan Newman, crew chief Luke Lambert and the No. 31 Sprint Cup Series team for a tire rules infraction detected at Auto Club Speedway last month.

“Our appeal is scheduled for Thursday, April 16,” Childress, chairman/CEO of RCR, said in a statement released Thursday. “We feel confident we have a very compelling case to present to the appeals panel. We strongly believe in the intent of the rules and the integrity of our own teams while following those same rules. Out of respect for the appeal process, we will have no further comments until after the hearing.”

Newman was docked 75 driver championship points – nearly a two-race total – and Lambert was fined $125,000, among several penalties, after NASCAR determined the team illegally had altered pressures by “bleeding air” out of its Goodyear tires via drilled holes during the Auto Club 400 Cup race on March 22 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

Following the race and an audit of tires taken from several teams at ACS, NASCAR sent the tires to an outside agency for further evaluation. As a result of its audit, NASCAR announced on March 31 the rules infractions against Newman’s No. 31 Caterpillar/Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS team amounted to a P5 level penalty and violated the following Sections in the 2015 NASCAR rulebook:

12.1: Actions detrimental to stock car racing

20.16: Wheels and tires

  1. 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: Tires

  1. Modifications to the tires, by treatment or any other means, will not be permitted.

Section 12.5.3.5.1 lists P5 Penalty Violation examples that could include but are not limited to:

  1. A. Effecting, modifying and/or altering the standard tires in any way, other than through authorized means such as tire pressure adjustments within the recommended range, permitted tire cooling when mounted on the race vehicle; or heat-cycling on the race vehicle on the racetrack earlier in the event.

12.5.3.5.2: Minimum P5 Penalty Options (includes all four points below):

  1. A. Loss of 50 championship driver and owner points, regardless of whether the violation occurred during a Championship race or not
  2. B. $75,000-$125,000 fine
  3. 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 NASCAR
  4. 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 seasons

12.5.3.5.3: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:

  1. Loss of an additional 25 Championship driver and owner points; regardless of whether it was a Championship Race or not
  2. Loss of an additional $50,000

As a result of the violations, Lambert was fined a total of $125,000 ($75,000 plus $50,000), suspended from the next six Sprint Cup races, plus any non-championship races or special events which might occur during that time period, and placed on NASCAR probation through Dec. 31. James Bender, team tire technician, and Philip Surgen, team engineer, were suspended from the next six Cup Series races, plus any non-championship races or special events which might occur during that time period, and were placed on NASCAR probation through Dec. 31.

Newman and Childress were each penalized with the loss of 75 (50 plus 25) championship driver and championship car owner points.

“NASCAR takes very seriously its responsibility to govern and regulate the rules of the sport in order to ensure competitive balance,” Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, said when the penalties were announced. “We’ve been very clear that any modifications to race vehicle tires is an unacceptable practice and will not be tolerated.”

RCR since has requested a deferral of the penalties until its appeal is heard by the sanctioning body. David Higdon, NASCAR’s vice president of integrated communications, tweeted Thursday that NASCAR would defer the suspensions and fines but not the points.

The 75-point deduction dropped Newman from sixth to 26th in the driver standings after six races and heading into Saturday night’s Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Newman, 37, has recorded three top-five and four top-10 finishes this season in his bid to again qualify for NASCAR’s season-ending Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.

Tire audits were conducted after the Cup events at Phoenix International Raceway, ACS and Martinsville Speedway as rumors of teams illegally altering air pressures circulated through the garage area. The process of altering tires by allowing air to escape as they heat-up places more of the tire’s surface in contact with the racetrack, providing additional grip consistently throughout a run.

Richard Buck, Sprint Cup Series managing director, said Monday that teams were reminded of the severity of penalties for tire infractions during a meeting with crew chiefs on Friday, March 27, at Martinsville, Va.

“We generally have crew chief meetings where we will address topics and issues with crew chiefs, get information to them,” Buck told nascar.com. “And that was the case at Martinsville. We had several things that we addressed there, but one of the things was the tires. We reiterated to the garage area that it is very serious; our process has not changed. We take that very seriously.”

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, April 9 2015
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