CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A NASCAR appeals panel sided with Joe Gibbs Racing on Wednesday and eased some of the penalties imposed for having an illegal part in Matt Kenseth’s race-winning engine at Kansas in April.
NASCAR punished JGR after discovering that one of eight connecting rods in the engine at the April 21 race did not meet the minimum weight requirement.
JGR did not dispute the part was illegal, but argued the penalties were too severe because it leases its engines from Toyota Racing Development and is not permitted to touch anything inside of them. Toyota accepted responsibility and insisted one light rod did not give Kenseth an advantage.
The three-member National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel agreed and dramatically reduced almost every penalty.
The points deducted from Kenseth were reduced from 50 to 12, which moves him from 11th in the standings to fourth. The panel also reinstated the three bonus points he earned for the victory for seeding in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
The panel also reduced crew chief Jason Ratcliff’s suspension from six races to one race, and eliminated the six-race suspension for owner Joe Gibbs. It let stand Ratcliff’s $200,000 fine.
DIGGING DEEP: Penske Racing is reaching deep into its bench after NASCAR suspended seven employees.
NASCAR’s chief appellate officer reduced the suspensions from six points races to two and the All-Star race.
Penske vice president of operations Mike Nelson will replace Travis Geisler as competition director.
Test team manager Kevin Buskirk will replace Paul Wolfe as defending Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski’s crew chief. Jonathan Hassler will be race engineer and Nick Hensley will be car chief.
Race engineer Steve Reis will replace Todd Gordon as Joey Logano’s crew chief. But Nationwide crew chief Greg Erwin will call the races for Logano. Ben Atkins will be race engineer and Jeffery Thousand will be car chief.
TRYING NEW THINGS: Kurt Busch will test an Indy car for Andretti Autosport at Indianapolis Motor Speedway next week.