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Furniture Row Racing withdraws NASCAR penalty appeal

Furniture Row Racing has withdrawn its appeal of a NASCAR penalty for a prerace infraction at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the team announced Tuesday.

That means Cole Pearn, crew chief of the team’s No. 78 Toyota driven by Martin Truex Jr., will miss this week’s Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway and will be fined $50,000. Truex will be docked 15 championship points, and team owner Joe Garone will lose 15 owners points.

Todd Berrier, a former Furniture Row crew chief who is now director of fabrication at Joe Gibbs Racing, will serve as Truex’s crew chief at Phoenix.

The team was penalized after an illegal roof flap was discovered during qualifying at Atlanta on Feb. 26. It was the second consecutive week that Truex’s car had what NASCAR felt was a roof-flap problem (a car’s roof flap is designed to keep a car from going airborne and flipping when it spins). At the season-opening Daytona 500, it cost Truex a chance to make a qualifying attempt. Both instances, Truex said, were safety-related and not meant to gain a competitive edge.

According to a statement released by Furniture Row, Garone met with NASCAR officials and was satisfied with their explanation of the penalty.

“I don’t see this being anymore than a seamless transition of Todd taking over the crew chief role for one race,” Garone said in the statement. “Todd knows our system very well. He has worked with Martin, Cole, the majority of our crew and Toyota.”

Pearn worked last weekend’s race at Las Vegas after Furniture Row announced it would appeal the penalty. Truex finished 11th in that race.

Truex now has 75 points and is 14th in the standings.

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