Richard Childress Racing received some relief, but for the most part NASCAR’s unprecedented penalty on the No. 31 Sprint Cup Series team for tampering with tires remained largely in place by the National Motorsports Appeals Panel.
In its decision Thursday, the three-member panel confirmed the team committed the violations, which included modifying tires in order to reduce air pressure, and that it constituted a “P5” penalty – the second-most serious in NASCAR’s penalty structure.
However, the panel reduced from 75 to 50 the points penalty against driver Ryan Newman and team owner Richard Childress. It also reduced the fine from $125,000 to $75,000. Both are the minimums for a “P5” infraction.
The panel said it made the adjustment because NASCAR has no written explanation of what constitutes a “post-race inspection,” which is when the violations occurred.
Crew chief Luke Lambert, tire specialist James Bender and engineer Philip Surgen still will have to serve six-race suspensions, including any nonpoints events that take place during that time period. All three will remain on probation through the end of the year.
NASCAR officials declined to comment, as RCR could still appeal once more to the Chief Appellate Officer.
“I’d like to say I’m thankful today to have had the opportunity to present our facts to the Appeals Panel, and I appreciate their consideration of those facts in making the decision to reduce the fine and reduce the points penalty,” Lambert said. “However, I am disappointed in the decision not to completely overturn the penalty based on the facts that we presented today.”
Lambert said RCR would take some time to consider whether to make a final appeal.
NASCAR officials have been confiscating tires from several teams this season and sent those taken from the No. 31 after the March 22 California race to a third party for further analysis. NASCAR issued its original penalty March 31.
Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter