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March 11, 2024

RFK Racing drops appeal of No. 17 team penalty; suspensions to begin at Bristol

Chris Buescher looks on.

RFK Racing has withdrawn its appeal of last week’s penalty for a safety violation in the Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

A NASCAR spokesperson confirmed Monday that the organization had dropped its appeal, six days after its No. 17 Ford team was docked for a detached wheel during the Pennzoil 400. Chris Buescher finished last in the event after his No. 17 entry crashed, and two crew members — jack operator Nicholas Patterson and front tire changer Jakob Prall — were suspended for two Cup Series races for the safety violation of Sections A&C (Tires and Wheels; Loss or separation of an improperly installed tire/wheel from the vehicle during the event) in the NASCAR Rule Book.

By halting the appeals process, those suspensions are set to take effect for Sunday’s Food City 500 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Bristol Motor Speedway, extending through the March 24 Cup Series event at Circuit of The Americas.

Patterson and Prall were on the over-the-wall crew’s roster last weekend for the No. 17 Ford, which Buescher drove to a runner-up finish Sunday at Phoenix Raceway. Team co-owner Brad Keselowski — Sunday’s fourth-place finisher — indicated that the penalty appeal was intended to provide extra time to get new crew members better acclimated to their fill-in roles.

RELATED: Bristol weekend schedule | RFK posts dual top fives at Phoenix

“To bring in a new tire changer, a jackman, it’s a major undertaking.,” Keselowski told reporters Saturday at Phoenix. “These guys are really good. They’re highly skilled athletes. Most of them are college athletes that have played for quite some time, and by the nature of where the race teams are, we don’t carry a depth chart of people that you wish you could carry. It’s expensive. And so, you’d like to have as much time as possible to bring somebody up to make sure you don’t have the same problem again. …

“You want to have an extra week of practice of working out whoever that new guy is going to be, and the jitters that they might have before they jump over the wall in front of 100 thousand-some fans and a car that’s moving 50, 60 miles an hour. You want to get every little bit of time you can with that person, especially when it’s two people. I think we’re working through that right now.”

Travis Juedes (front tire changer) and Samuel Wright (jack) were listed as replacement crew members for the No. 17 team for this weekend at Bristol, according to the NASCAR rosters portal. Both Juedes and Wright served in the same roles on RFK’s No. 60 Ford when the organization fielded a third entry for David Ragan in the season-opening Daytona 500.