The National Motorsports Appeals Panel today heard and considered the appeal of a P5 penalty issued on March 31, 2015 to team owner Richard Childress, driver Ryan Newman, crew chief Lucas Lambert (crew chief), James Bender (tire technician) and Philip Surgen (race engineer) relative to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series vehicle #31 at Auto Club Speedway.
The penalty concerns the following sections in the 2015 NASCAR rule book:
12.1: Actions detrimental to stock car racing
20.16: Wheels and tires
A. Any device, modification, or procedure to the tire or wheel, including the valve stem hardware, that is used to release pressure, beyond normal pressure adjustments, from the tire and/or inner shield, will not be permitted.
F. Modifications to the tires, by treatment or any other means, will not be permitted.
18.104.22.168.2: Minimum P5 Penalty Options (includes all four points below):
A. Loss of 50 championship driver and owner points, regardless of whether the violation occurred during a Championship race or not
B. $75,000-$125,000 fine
C. Suspension for the next six series Championship Races, plus any non-championship races or special events which might occur during that time period, for the crew chief and any other team members as determined by NASCAR
D. Probation through the end of the calendar year for all suspended members, or for a six-month period following the issuance of the penalty notice if that period spans across two consecutive seasons.
22.214.171.124.3: P5 Level infractions detected during post-race inspection:
If the infraction is detected during post-race inspection, then the following penalty elements will be added to those listed previously in this section:
A. Loss of an additional 25 Championship driver and owner points; regardless of whether it was a Championship Race or not
B. Loss of an additional $50,000
The original penalty assessed included a $125,000 fine ($75,000 for a P5 violation plus $50,000 for a violation found post-race), six-race suspension and probation through Dec. 31 to Lambert; six-race suspension and probation through Dec. 31 to both Bender and Surgen; and the loss of 75 (50 plus 25) championship car owner and 75 (50 plus 25) championship driver points to both Childress and Newman.
Upon hearing the testimony, the decisions of the National Motorsports Appeals Panel are:
1. The Appellants violated the Rule or Rules set forth in the Penalty Notice and it is a P5 level violation.
2. The Panel amends the original Penalty levied by NASCAR because there is no written explanation of what constitutes a post-race inspection. Therefore the Penalty elements added under Section 126.96.36.199.3. are removed and the Penalty adjusted to:
-Loss of 50 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Car Owner points for Richard Childress.
-Loss of 50 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Driver points for Ryan Newman.
-$75,000 fine. Suspended for the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Races, plus any non-Championship Races or Special Events which might occur during that time period. Placed on NASCAR probation through Dec. 31 for crew chief Lucas Lambert.
- Suspended for the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Races, plus any non-Championship Races or Special Events which might occur during that time period. Placed on NASCAR probation through Dec. 31 for Tire Technician James Bender.
-Suspended for the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Races, plus any non-Championship Races or Special Events which might occur during that time period. Placed on NASCAR probation through Dec. 31 for Race Engineer Philip Surgen.
The panel consisted of the following three individuals:
John Capels: Former president and chairman of the board of the United States Auto Club. Also won four major open-wheel races as a team manager, the last with Johnny Rutherford at Michigan in 1986.
Hunter Nickell: Former president of SPEED Channel, now known as NASCAR television partner FOX Sports 1.
Dale Pinilis: Operator of Bowman Gray Stadium, a quarter-mile track Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and the longest continuously operating weekly track in NASCAR.
The Appellants have the right to appeal today’s decision to the National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer in accordance with Section 15 of the NASCAR rule book.