Final appeals officer upholds penalties for Ryan Newman crew

CONCORD, N.C. -- Ryan Newman will be without his crew chief for the next six Sprint Cup Series points races, as NASCAR final appeals officer Bryan Moss denied Richard Childress Racing's final appeal Wednesday on penalties issued for manipulating tires at the March 22 race at Auto Club Speedway.

Moss upheld the suspensions to Newman crew chief Luke Lambert, engineer Philip Surgen and tire specialist James Bender. They will miss this week's points race at Kansas Speedway, the non-points Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte and then points races at Charlotte, Dover, Pocono, Michigan and Sonoma. They will return for the July 4 weekend race at Daytona.

Todd Parrott, who won the 1999 Cup title with Dale Jarrett and currently oversees the RCR competition department in the Xfinity Series, will take over as crew chief for Newman.

The points penalties and fines remained unchanged from the adjustments made April 16 on RCR's first appeal. The original 75-point penalty to Newman and the team and the $125,000 fine to Lambert were reduced to 50 points and $75,000. The reduction removed the penalty escalator used for violations found in postrace inspection.

With the 50-point penalty, Newman is 14th in the Sprint Cup standings and 22 points ahead of the current cutoff for the Chase for the Sprint Cup with 16 races left in the regular season.

"We do not agree with the final ruling," RCR spokesman Tim Packman said. "We feel we had a compelling case. We still feel we were in the right, and the facts presented today would have proved that. ... We stand behind our suspended team members."

NASCAR declined to comment on the decision. Moss released a statement saying that the "preponderance of the evidence" during the nine-hour hearing showed RCR violated the rules.

Tires from Newman's car were taken during the race, inspected later by NASCAR and then sent to a third party for evaluation. RCR was found to have manipulated the tires so they would bleed air out of them. It is both a safety and a competition issue -- a deflating tire has more potential to go flat and allows for more grip by compensating for the increased air pressure generated from heat in the tire throughout a green-flag run.

NASCAR has taken tires from several teams since the start of the season in an attempt to crack down on teams bleeding air out of tires. The RCR team is so far the only one to get penalized.

This was the second case heard by Moss, the retired Gulfstream president who assumed his role as NASCAR's final arbitrator in 2014. He has upheld NASCAR's penalties in both of his rulings.