Team Penske's final appeal denied

Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

Original post 4-5-2017: NASCAR's National Motorsports Appeals commission still is working to schedule a hearing for Team Penske, ensuring that #2 crew chief Paul Wolfe will be with Brad Keselowski this weekend.

A NASCAR official confirmed Wednesday morning that next week would be the earliest that the team's appeal of a Phoenix penalty would be heard, meaning the deferment of Wolfe's suspension would continue at Texas Motor Speedway.

Team owner Roger Penske said after Keselowski's win at Martinsville that the team felt confident about its chances because it 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.

"You get the call that you failed the certain metric, and we wanted to get the car back and look at it ourselves," Penske said, explaining why it waited a week to file an appeal. "We huddled and decided it's going to be better for everybody if we can state our case and maybe overall, (NASCAR will) change some rules so maybe we'll have a level playing field.

-- NBC Sports --

UPDATE 4-12-2017: Brad Keselowski crew chief Paul Wolfe will be suspended for the next two races as a three-member NASCAR appeals panel ruled against Team Penske following a hearing Wednesday. Keselowski's fifth-place car failed postrace inspection March 19 at Phoenix International Raceway as it had a rear steer of more than 0.56 degrees of skew. NASCAR suspended Wolfe for three races, fined him $65,000 and docked Keselowski 35 points. Wolfe sat out one race before Penske decided to appeal the penalty. He is expected to miss the upcoming races at Bristol and Richmond.

-- ESPN.com --

UPDATE 2 4-12-2017: "While we are disappointed in today's results, we plan to immediately request a final appeal hearing as outlined in the NASCAR rulebook. While the appeals process runs its course, we will continue to move forward and our focus will remain on getting prepared for the upcoming Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event at Bristol Motor Speedway."

-- Team Penske --

UPDATE 3: The final appeal for penalties issued to Brad Keselowski and his Penske team from the March 19 race at Phoenix will be April 25. NASCAR will allow crew chief Paul Wolfe to be at this weekend's race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Wolfe, who sat out the race following Phoenix, faces a suspension of two additional races and will have to choose whether he wants to be at Bristol with the possibility of missing the following races at Richmond and Talladega. While a crew chief has limited impact at Talladega because there is little room for adjustments on the car, it is one of the 10 NASCAR playoff tracks.

-- ESPN.com --

UPDATE 4, 4-24-2017: The date for Team Penske's final appeal of L1-level penalties issued last month has been pushed back one day due to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race postponement at Bristol. NASCAR officials said the hearing is now scheduled for 6:00pm/et on Wednesday, April 26 at the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina. It previously had been scheduled for Tuesday.

Bryan Moss, the National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer, will preside over the hearing. The session will determine the final outcome of penalties issued March 22 to the Roger Penske-owned #2 Ford team after the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix Raceway.

Team Penske filed the paperwork for a final appeal April 13, one day after the three-member National Motorsports Appeal Panel upheld the original penalties. That punishment included a three-race suspension for crew chief Paul Wolfe and a 35-point deduction for Brad Keselowski in the drivers' standings and the same amount for Penske in the owners' standings.

With the appeal pending, a Team Penske official indicated that Wolfe is scheduled to be atop the pit box for Monday's Food City 500 at Bristol. Wolfe already has served one race of his three-race suspension, handing over the helm to Brian Wilson for the March 26 race at Auto Club Speedway.

Moss, the former president at Gulfstream Aerospace, has held the role of National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer since 2014. His ruling on April 26 will be final. The burden of proof will rest with Team Penske in the final appeal process. In the initial hearing, the burden of proof rested with NASCAR.

--- NASCAR.com ---

UPDATE 5, 4-26-2017 Brad Keselowski crew chief Paul Wolfe plans to continue to work races as the Team Penske final appeal hearing scheduled for Wednesday was postponed to May 9.

NASCAR Final Appeals officer Bryan Moss had to reschedule the hearing because he became ill.

-- ESPN.com --

UPDATE 6, 5-2-2017 Brad Keselowski crew chief Paul Wolfe will sit out this weekend's race at Talladega Superspeedway to serve the second race of a three-race suspension for penalties from the March 19 race at Phoenix. Team Penske has a final appeal of the penalties scheduled for next Tuesday, but Wolfe will sit out as a preemptive move in case the appeal fails, which would then require him to only sit out next week at Kansas but return for the all-star and 600-mile race weekends at Charlotte. Engineer Brian Wilson will take his place at Talladega.

-- ESPN.com --

UPDATE FINAL 5/9/2017: Team Penske failed Tuesday in its final appeal of penalties issued to Brad Keselowski and his team for having too much skew in the rear suspension following the March 19 race at Phoenix International Raceway.

Keselowski, who finished fifth in that race, was docked 35 points while his crew chief Paul Wolfe received a three-race suspension and a $65,000 fine. Wolfe has already served two races of his suspension, and he will miss the race this weekend at Kansas Speedway.

Penske lost its initial Keselowski penalty appeal to a three-member board April 12, and had its final appeal originally scheduled for April 26, but NASCAR final appeals officer Bryan Moss was sick. Moss was unavailable Tuesday and was replaced by veteran television executive Roger Werner, who is chairman of the racing sanctioning-body coalition Automobile Competition Committee for the United States that serves as the U.S. representative in meetings with world-wide racing sanctioning body Federation Internationale de l'Automobile.

Werner upheld NASCAR's penalty as the Penske car had more than 0.56 degrees of skew in its rear suspension when measured from one rear wheel to the other. NASCAR's new rules this year have eliminated all rear skew, and teams are given a tolerance for what NASCAR would consider the amount of movement that could occur naturally during the race and not be an egregious competition advantage.

Team owner Roger Penske had said last month that his argument with NASCAR was over the procedure and not giving the team additional time to allow the car to settle and make another attempt to pass -- something that NASCAR had allowed teams to do, in certain circumstances, in previous years. NASCAR does not have written procedures in its rulebook as far as how many chances a team receives to get a car to pass post-race inspection.

In the initial appeal, it is up to NASCAR to prove why the penalty was issued. In the final appeal, Penske shouldered the burden of proof of why the penalty should not have been issued.

Wolfe served two races of his suspension by missing the race at Auto Club Speedway in California and the race Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway.

The points already had been docked from Keselowski's total (but would have been reinstated if the appeal was successful). He remains in third, seven points behind second-place Martin Truex Jr. and 14 ahead of Chase Elliott.

-- ESPN --


"We are disappointed in the outcome of today's final appeal hearing. 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."

-- Team Penske --