On Sept. 14, 2012, National Stock Car Racing Chief Appellate Officer John Middlebrook heard and considered the appeal of the six-week suspension penalty of crew member Grant Hutchens, team engineer for the Richard Childress Racing No. 27 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team.
Upon hearing the testimony of both parties and carefully reviewing the facts, it was the Chief Appellate Officer’s decision to uphold the original penalty assessed by NASCAR. Therefore, Hutchens’ suspension from NASCAR is effective immediately until Oct. 25 and his NASCAR probation will continue until Dec. 31.
The penalties concern Section 12-1: Actions detrimental to stock car racing; Section 12-4K: If, in the judgment of NASCAR Officials, race equipment that has been previously certified or previously approved by NASCAR for use in an event, pursuant to sub-section 8-12, has been altered, modified, repaired or changed in any matter. Intentionally modifying previously certified frame rails for the purpose of deceiving NASCAR’s inspection gauges.
The penalties stemmed from a failed post-race inspection at the NASCAR Research and Development Center on Aug. 21 following the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Michigan International Speedway on Aug. 19.
The original penalties assessed were:
· Car owner (Richard Childress): Loss of 25 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship car owner points;
· Car driver (Paul Menard): Loss of 25 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship driver points;
· Crew chief (Richard Labbe): $100,000 fine; suspended from NASCAR for six weeks; placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31;
· Car chief (Craig Smokstad): Suspended from NASCAR for six weeks; placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31;
· Crew member (Grant Hutchens): Suspended from NASCAR for six weeks; placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31.
On Sept. 10, the Appellant appealed the six-week suspensions of Smokstad and Hutchens to the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel. The Appellant did not appeal the loss of 25 championship car owner and 25 championship driver points or the $100,000 fine and six-week suspension of crew chief Richard Labbe, who began serving his suspension from NASCAR Sept. 4. It was the unanimous decision of the Panel to uphold both of their suspensions. The Appellant then appealed the suspension of Hutchens to the Chief Appellate Officer.