Hendrick suspensions lifted after appeal
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- An appeals committee on Wednesday lifted the suspensions of the crew chiefs for Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch, who were both accused of cheating following a race in Las Vegas.
The National Stock Car Racing Commission rescinded the two-race suspensions NASCAR had levied against Chad Knaus and Alan Gustafson, and instead placed both on 90 days probation.
George Silbermann, chairman of the three-man appeals committee, noted that the decision was by majority vote and was not unanimous.
"This decision pertains specifically to the evidence presented in this appeal," he wrote. "The Commission's rulings do not have a bearing on existing or announced NASCAR enforcement policies."
NASCAR stiffened its penalty process after the March 13 race in Las Vegas, when Johnson's race-winning car and Busch's second-place car both failed inspection. Johnson's was too high and Busch's was too low.
Knaus, crew chief for Johnson, was suspended by NASCAR for two races and fined $35,000. Johnson was also docked 25 points, and Jeff Gordon was docked 25 owner points because he is listed as the car owner.
Gustafson was suspended two weeks and fined $25,000. Busch was docked 25 points, as was car owner Rick Hendrick.
The commission's ruling did not affect the points that were lost.
Hendrick on Wednesday maintained that neither crew chief was cheating, and that the cars failed the post-race inspections because of mechanical issues that developed over the 400-mile race.
"I appreciate NASCAR giving us the opportunity to present the facts," said Hendrick. "From our perspective it's important everyone, especially our fans, know that we absolutely had no intention of breaking any rules.
"This sport has a rule book for good reason, and it's vital it be enforced. As an owner, I know it's equally important to have a just forum for teams and a fair system of checks and balances. We respect NASCAR's decision and look forward to carrying some momentum into Bristol."
The commission has yet to hear the appeal for Todd Berrier, crew chief for Kevin Harvick.
Berrier was suspended for four races for illegally rigging Harvick's fuel tank at Las Vegas to appear full during qualifying. Although Richard Childress Racing is appealing the penalty, the team is more concerned with having Berrier's suspension shortened and having the 25 points Harvick was docked reinstated.
RCR maintains that because the infraction was during qualifying, points should not be deducted.