By AMANDA VINCENT
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team, Furniture Row Racing, has elected to withdraw its appeal of a penalty issued by NASCAR following the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Motor Speedway on Feb. 28, according to an announcement from the race team on Tuesday.
The No. 78 FRR Toyota team of driver Martin Truex Jr. had a roof flap issue at Atlanta for which crew chief, Cole Pearn, was fined $50,000 and suspended for a race. The race team was docked championship owner points and Truex lost driver points.
At Atlanta, the roof flap issue was discovered during pre-race inspection. The team also had a roof flap issue in front-row qualifying for the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. After Daytona, Pearn was placed on probation until the end of the year.
After the Atlanta penalty announcement, Furniture Row Racing announced it would appeal the penalty; therefore, Pearn was able to work as crew chief Sunday in the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, as NASCAR rules allow for the deferment of suspensions when they’re being appealed.
According to the announcement from the race team on Tuesday, Furniture Row Racing President Joe Garone met with NASCAR officials and was satisfied with officials’ clarification of the penalty and the reason for it.
With the appeal withdrawn, Pearn will serve his one-race suspension this upcoming weekend that will culminate in the March 13 race at Phoenix International Raceway. Todd Berrier will serve as substitute crew chief for Pearn.
“Being able to secure the services of Todd for Phoenix was an incredible and selfless gesture by Joe Gibbs Racing,” Garone said. “We are very proud to have a technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing and are deeply grateful for its quick response to offer assistance. I also want to thank Todd. He has plenty on his plate, and to go the extra mile to help us out is appreciated by everyone at Furniture Row Racing.”
Berrier, now the Director of Fabrication at Joe Gibbs Racing, formerly worked as crew chief at Furniture Row Racing. During that time, Pearn was the team’s lead race engineer. While crew chief at FRR from 2012 through 2014, Berrier also worked with Truex, as 2014 was Truex’s first season with the team.
“I don’t see this being any more than a seamless transition of Todd taking over the crew chief role for one race,” Garone said. “Todd knows our system very well. He has worked with Martin, Cole, the majority of our crew and Toyota.”
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