LONG BEACH, Calif. — Roger Penske maintained Saturday his team was working in a gray area of the rule book when NASCAR confiscated parts from the cars of defending Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski and teammate Joey Logano.
“I certainly don’t think it’s cheating,” Penske said. “You are looking at the rules, and you are working in a gray area. We all work in the gray areas. We’re trying to be as competitive as we can be. We’ve got very creative minds, and it takes a lot of creative minds to be competitive.
“There are many different areas we are all working on. We just looked at a particular rule that maybe NASCAR has a different view of. Now we’ll get a chance to have an unbiased panel look at it.”
NASCAR seized parts from the rear-end housings of both Penske Racing Fords during pre-race inspection at Texas last Saturday.
On Wednesday, NASCAR suspended both crew chiefs and five other team members for six races, levied $200,000 in fines and docked each driver 25 points.
Penske will appeal to a three-member panel.
He maintained the parts on both cars had been approved by NASCAR, but officials have accused the team of modifying them after approval.
“NASCAR has approved parts and unapproved parts. The parts that we had were approved parts, they are concerned that we modified them. That’s where the discussion is,” he said.
“From an overall standpoint, NASCAR felt what we had provided them for approval then, these parts were different during the inspection process.”
The rule book was changed this season to address many of the modifications teams were doing last year to the rear-end housings.
Among the changed language to the passage is that all suspension systems and components must be presented “in a completed form/assembly” before being used in competition.
A second new passage states, “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.” That puts in writing that NASCAR will not tolerate teams altering the skew of the rear ends the way they did a year ago.
Camping World Trucks
Crafton wins third Truck victory: In Kansas City, Kan., Matt Crafton charged to the lead in a crash-filled race at Kansas Speedway, and then held off a late run by Joey Coulter to pick up his third career truck series victory Saturday.
Crafton and Coulter were engaged in a spirited game of cat-and-mouse over the final 20 laps, but Crafton held onto his truck-length lead as they crossed the finish line, allowing him to celebrate his first win since Iowa in 2011 with a burnout that tore up one of his rear tires.
Coulter chased him across to finish second. Ryan Blaney got around Brendan Gaughan on the final lap to finish third, and Johnny Sauter rounded out the top five.
There were 11 cautions during the race, and a red flag flew for about 12 minutes after Brennan Newberry and Todd Bodine were involved in a wreck that scattered debris all over the track.
Slumping Franchitti wins pole in Long Beach: In Long Beach, Calif., Dario Franchitti won the pole for Sunday’s IndyCar Series race at Long Beach.
Franchitti came into the weekend ranked last in the IndyCar standings and off to the worst start of his career. But he insisted he’s not concerned about the start, and proved it with a big last lap in Saturday’s qualifying.
Franchitti’s last lap was 1:07.2379 and bounced Ryan Hunter-Reay off the pole at the last second.
Will Power was third and was followed by Takuma Sato, Mike Conway and Helio Castroneves. The Fast Six had an even split of three Chevrolets and three Hondas.
IndyCar penalized Scott Dixon, Oriole Servia and Marco Andretti in the first round. Servia’s team protested and IndyCar overturned the call.
Two weeks ago at Barber, IndyCar penalized Sato for interfering with Justin Wilson’s qualifying lap.
Rosberg takes pole at Bahrain GP: In Sakhir, Bahrain, Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg took pole position at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Saturday, finishing ahead of Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull and Fernando Alonso of Ferrari.
It is the second pole of Rosberg’s career and the second in a row for Mercedes. He timed 1:32.330 to finish 0.254 in front of Vettel — the three-time defending Formula One champion — and 0.337 ahead of Alonso, who won last week’s Chinese Grand Prix.
Rosberg screamed into the radio: “Yes! Come on guys, that’s how it’s done.”
Rosberg’s teammate, Lewis Hamilton, was fourth but will start ninth because of a five-grid penalty for a gear box change. Mark Webber of Red Bull, who was fifth but was given a three-grid penalty last week in China, will start seventh.