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Penske maintains team was working in 'gray area'

Long-awaited victory: Matt Crafton celebrates his first trucks win since 2011. He edges Joey Coulter at the SFP 250.

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Long-awaited victory: Matt Crafton celebrates his first trucks win since 2011. He edges Joey Coulter at the SFP 250.

LONG BEACH, Calif. — Roger Penske maintained Saturday that his team was working in a "gray area" of the rules 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 in preparation for today's IndyCar race. "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 just looked at a particular rule that maybe NASCAR has a different view of."

NASCAR seized parts from the rear-end housings of both Penske Fords during prerace inspection at Texas on April 13. Wednesday, NASCAR suspended both crew chiefs and five other team members for six points 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; NASCAR officials accused the team of modifying them after approval.

Penske said there was no warning from NASCAR that the team was potentially in violation of the rules and Logano's car cleared inspections before it was called back after taking parts from Keselowski's car. Logano barely made the start of the race, which Penske said was because of the way NASCAR conducted the inspections.

Penske said he didn't care if the organization was snitched on by another team, dismissing the rumor as "not important. … In my world, we take the penalty, we appeal it to the best of our ability, we take whatever those results are and move on."

Edwards seeks win close to his home

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Carl Edwards is from Columbia, Mo. Kansas Speedway is the closest NASCAR track, so he said he would love to win at it in today's Sprint Cup race. But he has never won at the track in 11 starts. His best finish is second in 2008.

"I want to be on top of the sheet as badly as ever every time I get in the race car here," said Edwards, who enters the STP 400 fifth in the points standings. "A Cup win here truly would be as big as the Daytona 500 or any other race for me."

Edwards starts the race second. Matt Kenseth, who won last year's fall race at Kansas Speedway, is on the pole. Jimmie Johnson, who leads the points standings, starts 21st.

Trucks: Matt Crafton charged to the lead with 29 laps left in a crash-filled race at Kansas Speedway, then held off a late run by Joey Coulter to win the SFP 250. It was Crafton's third career trucks win and first since Iowa in 2011. There were 11 cautions, 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.

NHRA: Funny Car goes into grandstands

CONCORD, N.C. — Fans escaped serious injury when the body of Funny Car driver Robert Hight's car blew off near the finish line after his engine exploded at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals.

The carbon fiber body went high in the air and came down in a walkway in the grandstand. As a precaution, two fans were evaluated at the track and released by paramedics.

"I've never had something like that happen to me; none of us have on these John Force teams," Hight said. "We're not going to ignore this at all. We're going to look at how it came apart. We'll study video, and we'll see if we can't somehow improve our body mount to where it stays on the chassis. That's the safest thing, for the driver and everybody else."

Rookie Chad Head earned his first career Funny Car No. 1 qualifying position with a run of 4.014 seconds at 315.19 mph. Shawn Langdon (3.751, 327.90 mph) led in Top Fuel, Mike Edwards (6.471, 213.64 mph) Pro Stock and Hector Arana (6.826, 195.19 mph) Pro Stock Motorcycle. The finals are today.

More drag racing: Driving the "Super Nanook," Kyle Hough beat Ron Hope in the Fuel Altered final of the IHRA event at Bradenton Motorsports Park. Other winners: Peter Gallen (Funny Car), Kyle Wurtzel (Top Fuel), and Jay Turner (Nitro Harley).

IndyCar: Dario Franchitti, last in the points standings, won the pole for today's Grand Prix of Long Beach. Franchitti completed his last lap in 1:07.2379 to bounced Ryan Hunter-Reay (1:07.2934) to the No. 2 spot.

F1: Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg earned the pole for this morning's Bahrain Grand Prix. He completed a lap in 1:32.330, 0.254 better than Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, the three-time defending series champion.

. Fast facts

Sprint Cup points

After seven of 36 races. The top 10 in points plus two wild cards after 26 races make the Chase for the Championship.

Driver Pts. Back

Jimmie Johnson 269—

Kyle Busch 251 18

Greg Biffle 239 30

Brad Keselowski 235 34

Carl Edwards 234 35

Dale Earnhardt Jr.234 35

Kasey Kahne 232 37

Clint Bowyer 208 61

Paul Menard 206 63

Matt Kenseth 204 65

Today's race

STP 400, 1 p.m., Kansas Speedway, Kansas City, Kan. TV/radio: Ch. 13; 102.5-FM

Penske maintains team was working in 'gray area' 04/20/13 [Last modified: Sunday, April 21, 2013 12:59am]

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