Haas team to appeal penalties for altering Chevrolets

With severe penalties looming,
Haas-CNC Motorsports has decided to appeal NASCAR's ruling that the team's cars were illegally altered for the May 25 Coca-Cola 600, sources told ESPN.com's David Newton.

NASCAR handed down its most severe penalties yet concerning alterations to its new car on May 28, when the crew chiefs and car chiefs for Scott Riggs and Johnny Sauter were suspended six races apiece for tampering with the rear wings on their Chevrolets at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

Additionally, crew chiefs Bootie Barker and Dave Skog were fined $100,000 each. Derick Jennings and Thomas Harris, the car chiefs, were not fined but their suspensions are unprecedented. All four must sit out until the July 12 race in Chicago, and are on probation through the end of the year.

Riggs and Sauter were each docked 150 driver points, penalties that severely hurt the struggling teams. The cars are both fielded by Haas-CNC Motorsports, which was docked 150 owner points for each Chevrolet. Haas general manager Joe Custer is listed as the owner for Riggs' No. 66, and Margaret Haas is listed as the owner of Sauter's No. 77.

The points deduction is the second largest in NASCAR history, only behind the 151 points Jeremy Mayfield and his team were docked for using an illegal fuel additive at Talladega in 2000.

Gene Haas, who actually owns the fledgling two-car team, began serving a two-year prison sentence for tax evasion in January. The team is widely believed to be for sale, and two-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart has acknowledged he's received an offer to buy the organization.

This round of penalties should drop the purchase price, as the points deductions are a significant setback to a pair of cars already running at the back of the field. Riggs' No. 66 drops from 26th to 35th in the owner standings, and Sauter's No. 70 falls even further outside the top 35, from 40th to 44th.

The cars were confiscated and Riggs and Sauter had to go to backups and start from the back of the field in the race. Riggs rallied to finish 28th, while Sauter was 35th.

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.