CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — NASCAR suspended the crew chiefs for Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick on Wednesday for violations at Phoenix Raceway.
Keselowski’s car failed post-race inspection on Sunday and NASCAR suspended crew chief Paul Wolfe three races. Wolfe was also fined $65,000 and Team Penske was docked 35 driver and owner points.
Team Penske said it will not immediately appeal and Brian Wilson will fill in for Wolfe this weekend at California.
“The race cars returned to the race shop (Wednesday) and we are in the process of evaluating the area in question,” the team said.
Keselowski finished fifth at Phoenix. He already has a victory this season, so the points penalty does little to alter his playoff position. But the driver was an analyst on FS1’s NASCAR Race Hub when the penalties were announced, and felt the points deduction does matter.
“Last year, you got a win and you locked in and you got to the next round. This year with points, you still lock in with wins,” he said on the show. “The difference is there’s a huge points bonus for having the most points at the end of the season that carries all the way through the playoffs, and you only get that bonus if you’re one of the best cars and leading up front at the end of the regular season, which requires having a lot of points.
“Thirty-five points is a pretty big deal.”
He noted the team does not know why it failed inspection at Phoenix and the car had “all the same parts” that it has had through the first four races of the season.
“All those parts were good and they passed inspection pre- and post-race,” he said. “So, there’s a lot of questions for our team, like we don’t understand exactly what happened. We’ve still got to figure out what happened, and that’s probably the most concerning thing because we feel like we built a car that was legal.
“It passed pre-race inspection. We don’t want it to happen again.”
Harvick’s team was fined for an illegal track bar mount and supports. Crew chief Rodney Childers was suspended for one race and fined $25,000. The Stewart-Haas Racing team was docked 10 driver and 10 team owner points. Harvick is winless through the first month of the season.
Meanwhile, a three-member appeals panel Wednesday upheld the 35-point penalty to AJ Allmendinger, as well as the three-week suspension and $65,000 fine to crew chief Randall Burnett.
Burnett has already served two races of the suspension. JTG Daugherty Racing was penalized for having three or more loose or missing lug nuts after the NASCAR Cup race at Atlanta.