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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — NASCAR's final appeals officer upheld penalties levied against Richard Childress Racing for intentionally manipulating Ryan Newman's tires in March.
The decision of Final Appeals Officer Bryan Moss is final. He ruled Wednesday there was "a preponderance of evidence" that RCR manipulated the tires.
Moss could have reduced, thrown out or even increased the penalties NASCAR initially levied after confiscating tires from several teams following a race at California. NASCAR said that RCR had intentionally altered the tires to let air leak out during a run — a process known as "bleeding" — to give Newman an advantage.
Newman crew chief Luke Lambert now must serve a six-race suspension and pay a $75,000 fine. The crew also loses an engineer and the tire specialist for six races, and a loss of 50 points for Newman and Childress.
Childress said in a statement the team did not agree with the ruling of Moss, a former Gulfstream executive who has now ruled with NASCAR in both of the hearings he has conducted.
"We feel we had a compelling case and still feel we were in the right, and the facts presented (Wednesday) would have proved that," Childress said. "We do appreciate the opportunity to be heard. We stand behind our suspended team members and look forward to their return. We will now move on and continue our goals of winning races and making the Chase for the Championship."
Newman last year finished second in the championship finale.
Moss' ruling means Lambert, engineer Philip Surgen and tire specialist James Bender can't work at the race track until the July race at Daytona. The six-race suspension also covers next week's All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
RCR had previously appealed the penalties to a three-member panel, which reduced the monetary fine and deduction of points, but upheld the suspensions. As the team decided if it would go to Moss, it sent an interim crew chief to Bristol Motor Speedway in place of Lambert.
But RCR decided after qualifying at Bristol to appeal, and Lambert worked Bristol, Richmond and Talladega as the team awaited its hearing.
Newman's team was punished amid widespread speculation throughout the garage that teams were poking tiny holes in their tires for an advantage. NASCAR seized tires after races at Phoenix and California. Of the four teams who had tires confiscated after California, only Newman's tires came back as having been manipulated. Kevin Harvick' and Joey Logano's tires were taken at Phoenix and both passed an inspection.
Newman has so far not commented on the penalties against his team. He's scheduled to speak to reporters Friday at Kansas Speedway for the first time since NASCAR ruled RCR manipulated his tires.