Penske appeal denied for Brad Keselowski penalties at Phoenix

CONCORD, N.C. -- 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.

After Kansas, Penske hopes to find itself back in the good graces of NASCAR. Keselowski teammate Joey Logano was docked 25 points and had his crew chief Todd Gordon suspended for two races for having a rear-suspension piece not properly positioned in Logano's race-winning car April 30 at Richmond. Penske is not appealing that penalty, and Gordon will serve the second race of his two-race suspension at Kansas.

Engineers Brian Wilson (Keselowski) and Miles Stanley (Logano) have directed the teams and setups in the absence of the crew chiefs.

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. Points carry more weight this year as the top 10 in the final regular-season standings earn playoff points -- points that drivers carry with them through the first three rounds of the playoffs that can help them advance to the next round -- on a 15-10-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 scale.