KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Ryan Newman is confident his “B team” will deliver this weekend at Kansas Speedway after NASCAR upheld the penalties levied against Richard Childress Racing for manipulating his tires.
Newman arrived for Saturday night’s Sprint Cup race without crew chief Luke Lambert, an engineer and a tire specialist. All of them are serving a six-race suspension after NASCAR found that they had intentionally altered his tires during the March race at California.
“Obviously disappointed. Don’t believe at all in the outcome of it,” Newman said Friday in his first comments since Final Appeals Officer Bryan Moss upheld the sanctions.
Moss said Wednesday that there was “a preponderance of evidence” that RCR had tampered with Newman’s tires by putting microscopic holes in them that leaked air over long runs. The practice known as “bleeding” would have given Newman an advantage.
Childress said in a statement Wednesday that “we had a compelling case and still feel we were in the right,” and that the RCR team stands by the suspended crew members.
Veteran crew chief Todd Parrott, who’s been with RCR since December as its Xfinity Series competition director, will serve as Newman’s interim crew chief. Parrott helped Dale Jarrett win the Sprint Cup title in 1999, and had recently worked for Richard Petty Motorsports.
The suspensions mean Lambert, engineer Philip Surgen and tire specialist James Bender cannot work at the track until the July race at Daytona, including next week’s All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Lambert was also fined, and Newman and Childress docked 50 points.
“Obviously the focus on the track changes without having Luke and some of the other guys here,” Newman said, “but we’ve established a good ‘b team’ that we have a lot of confidence in, and we’re focused on that. No doubt in my mind the car is going to be just as competitive.”
There had been widespread speculation throughout the garage that teams were using microscopic punctures in their tires to create an advantage. NASCAR seized tires at Phoenix and California to examine them, and only Newman’s tires came back having been manipulated.
Kevin Harvick’s and Joey Logano’s tires were taken at Phoenix but passed inspection.
Newman said he didn’t spend much time worrying about the suspensions, instead letting Childress and the rest of the guys in the garage take care of things.
“For me it really was no different,” he said. “For them, I’m sure they always have to work on a backup plan. That’s what makes a championship team a championship team, always having a backup plan — personnel-wise, strategy-wise and things like that. Whether it’s a member of the pit crew that gets injured or a member that gets suspended, they always have to have a backup plan.”
Newman has yet to win this season, finishing seventh last week at Talladega. But the former winner at Kansas Speedway said the personnel changes — a nuisance in many ways — could have some benefits, perhaps helping to shake the team out of its mini-funk.
“Having the continuity and the same group of people is important, but who knows?” Newman said. “We may learn a few things the way this whole thing unfolds, the way it works out.”
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