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Kenseth's team penalty reduced, rises in points standings

CHARLOTTE - Wisconsin NASCAR driver Matt Kenseth jumped from 11th-place to fourth in the Sprint Cup standings yesterday, after his team's severe penalties from two weeks ago were substantially reduced.

The National Stock Car Racing Association's Appeals Panel reduced Kenseth's driver penalty from 50 points to 12, restored his pole win for the Kansas Speedway event, and restored all his future benefits for winning the April 21st race. Crew chief Jason Ratcliff had his suspension reduced from six races to one, but his 200-thousand-dollar fine was upheld. The car's owner, Joe Gibbs Racing, had its ownership suspension lifted. The panel gave Toyota an increase in the loss of its NASCAR manufacturer points from five-to-seven. A three-member appeals panel heard a challenge to the penalties handed down, after one of eight connecting engine rods was found to be three grams too light during a post-race inspection.

Kenseth said he was pleased with the appeal outcome after calling the original penalties "borderline shameful." Team owner Gibbs said his group was glad to finish the appeal process, and focus on racing. He said the remaining penalties would not be challenged further.