Talking Rear-Ends with Penske Racing and Hendrick Motorsports

This past weekend, Penske Racing was found in violation of NASCAR’s rear-end suspension policy. As per the report on SPEED during NASCAR Raceday, NASCAR did not approve of the way both Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano’s rear-ends were bolted in. Reports since have stated that the rear-end housings were attached in a fashion that they might shift the rear-ends of the cars into yaw during competition.

Well this was something was allowed last year with the previous car, NASCAR wrote a new rule in the rulebook this year to prevent teams from doing that with the Generation Six car.

Section 20-12 of the rulebook states, “All front end and rear end suspension mounts with mounting hardware assembled must have single round mounting holes that are the correct size for the fastener being used. All front end and rear end suspension mounts and mounting hardware must not allow movement or realignment of any suspension component beyond normal rotation or suspension travel.”


American Muscle

As a result, both the No. 2 and No. 22 teams were assessed the following penalties as per NASCAR’s press release:

  • Crew chief Paul Wolfe has been fined $100,000 and suspended from NASCAR until the completion of the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship points events (including the non-points Sprint All-Star Race) and placed on probation until Dec. 31.
  • Car chief Jerry Kelley, team engineer Brian Wilson and team manager Travis Geisler (serves as team manager for both the No. 2 and No. 22 cars) have been suspended from NASCAR until the completion of the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship points events (including the non-points Sprint All-Star Race) and placed on probation until Dec. 31.
  • The loss of 25 championship driver (Brad Keselowski) and 25 championship owner (Roger Penske) points.
  • Crew chief Todd Gordon has been fined $100,000 and suspended from NASCAR until the completion of the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship points events (including the non-points Sprint All-Star Race) and placed on probation until Dec. 31.
  • Car chief Raymond Fox and team engineer Samuel Stanley have been suspended from NASCAR until the completion of the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship points events (including the non-points Sprint All-Star Race) and placed on probation until Dec. 31.
  • The loss of 25 championship driver (Joey Logano) and 25 championship owner (Walt Czarnecki) points.

Penske Racing has stated that they will appeal the penalties.

This entire scenario reminds us of what happened last year with Hendrick Motorsports with regards to the C-Posts of the car.

During last year’s pre-Daytona 500 qualifying inspection, NASCAR did not agree with the shape of the c-posts and requested that they be changed. The C-post is a piece of paneling towards the back of the car that connects the roof to the rear quarterpanel. The team modified the piece to gain an aerodynamic advantage.

As a result, Hendrick Motorsports was assessed penalties, which included a six week suspension for both crew chief Chad Knaus and car chief Ron Malec from the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events, plus probation till May 9th. They also fined Knaus $100,000 while taking away 25 driver points from Johnson and 25 owner points from his owner, Jeff Gordon. In comparing to the penalties for Penske Racing, seems that NASCAR is being consistent for once.

Now, Hendrick Motorsports appealed the penalties and got the suspensions removed. Chief Appellate Officer John Middlebrook erased the 25 owner point penalty assessed to car owner Jeff Gordon, the 25 driver point penalty assessed to Jimmie Johnson, the six week suspension to crew chief Chad Knaus and the six week suspension to car chief Ron Malec.

However, there’s a difference in the penalties, besides the fact that they do with different parts of the car. Hendrick Motorsports was assessed their penalties during pre-qualifying inspection while Penske Racing was assessed their penalties during pre-race inspection. That means that both cars had passed pre-qualifying inspection without any problems. Was there a change in the rear of the cars over the course of the weekend? Hmm, that is yet to be seen.

If this is something that Penske Racing has done within the grey areas, expect the penalty to be changed. However, if this is something that is right against the rule, then expect the penalties to stay.

Though why bring up Hendrick Motorsports in talking of these penalties to Penske Racing? Funny you should ask ‘ol mighty one.

Last year following a race at Michigan International Speedway, Brad Keselowski made some choice comments about the rear suspension of the Hendrick Motorsports cars. Keselowski said that his team hadn’t tried to change rear-end setups because “there’s a question to the interpretation that as of right now it’s legal. We have not felt comfortable enough to risk that name and reputation that (team owner) Roger (Penske) has over those parts and pieces. Others have, which is their prerogative. I’m not going to slam them for it. But it’s living in a gray area.”

“Obviously, I don’t think there’s anyone out there who doesn’t believe the Hendrick cars were one of those groups, but I respect them and their ability to do those things and be innovators accordingly,” he added that. “So it’s our challenge to find that little bit of speed and have that true understanding of all the rules that it entails in that particular department, and that’s something that we’re watching. That’s what my comments were meant to say.”

He also said that Penske Racing doesn’t want to work in those gray areas, at that time. Hmm, isn’t it interesting to see the shoe placed on the other foot in the fact that Penske is pushing the envelope?

To add to that, following the race on Sunday and the penalties, Brad Keselowski had some comments to say towards NASCAR and their inspection policy.

“I have one good thing to thing to say and that was my team and the effort they put in today in fighting back with the absolute (expletive) that’s been the last seven days in this garage area,” Keselowski said. “The things I’ve seen over the last seven days have me questioning everything I believe in. I’m not happy about it. I don’t have anything positive to say and I probably should just leave it at that.

Keselowski added in that interview that he feels targeted. Could someone had found out about what they were doing and talked to NASCAR about it?

After Keselowski’s comments last year, Johnson’s car was one of the car selected as the “random” car to take back to the R&D center a lot for further inspection. Could someone had turned the shoe on the other foot? Anything is possible, right?

Though one other thing to consider is Keselowski says he doesn’t agree with the inspection process. Well, it’s the same process that all other 42 cars go through and they are subject to the same procedures that his car goes under. How is that feeling targeted?

Just food for thought :)


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1 COMMENT

  1. Everyone brings up the #48 ‘C’ pillar as a comparison yet in the case of the #48 the infraction was for an area that was between template points that all teams had been tweaking and more importantly a part that could have easily been shown to be out via 100 year old technology. That proof by Nascar was never provided.

    On the other hand the new rules specify exactly what materials will be used for the housing and that determines what bolt sizes can be used for the specific loads and the bolt hole opening to be used in conjunction with said bolt size. Using the same standards on the #2 and 22, Nascar needs to show that the part didn’t match up with those engineering standards. If they do Penske loses, if they don’t Penske wins. This is much easier to determine.

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