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NASCAR punishes Gibbs for cheating

August 21, 2008|Sam Farmer; David Wharton | From Times Staff and Wire Reports

NASCAR suspended seven crew members of Joe Gibbs Racing and stripped drivers Tony Stewart and Joey Logano of 150 points each Wednesday for cheating after Saturday's Nationwide Series race.

Crew chiefs Jason Ratcliff and Dave Rogers were suspended indefinitely and fined $50,000 each, but NASCAR decided not to bar the cars from future races.

Owner Joe Gibbs said he would not appeal the penalties. He indicated he would also personally fine the crew members involved and suspend them through the end of the season.

"We want to apologize to NASCAR, all of our partners, all of our families at JGR, and all of our fans for the unfortunate incident that took place this past weekend in Michigan with our two Nationwide teams," Gibbs said in a statement.

"A poor decision was made by some key members of our organization, and 100% of the blame rests with us."

No. 18 car chief Dorian Thorsen, engine tuner Michael Johnson and crew member Toby Bigelow and No. 20 car chief Richard Bray and engine tuner Dan Bajek also received indefinite suspensions. JGR was docked 150 owner points for each car and the teams were placed on probation for the rest of the season.

After Stewart finished third in the race at Michigan International Speedway in the No. 20 car and Logano was seventh in the No. 18, inspectors found magnets under the gas pedals of both cars when they were sent to the chassis dyno for examination.

NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said the teams were attempting to mask the cars' true horsepower.

Donnie Wingo, crew chief for Sprint Cup driver Reed Sorenson, was fined $25,000 by NASCAR for an improperly attached weight on the No. 41 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge. The violation was found following Sunday's race at Michigan International Speedway.

Kyle Busch earned his third victory in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series by dominating the O'Reilly 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee.

Busch, in a Toyota, led the final 130 laps, endured four cautions and a red flag over the final 21 laps and clinched the win by holding off the field on a green-white-checker finish.

TENNIS

Mauresmo reaches Pilot Pen quarterfinals

Amelie Mauresmo showed no signs of the nagging injuries that sidelined her for several weeks, defeating fifth-seeded Patty Schnyder, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (6), to advance to the quarterfinals of Pilot Pen at New Haven, Conn.

In the men's draw, top-seeded Fernando Verdasco had little trouble defeating Ivo Minar, 6-3, 6-1, but second-seeded Ivo Karlovic was upset by Luka Gregorc, 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-2.

PRO FOOTBALL

Rams' Jackson ends his holdout

St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson ended his holdout, and the team appeared on the verge of signing him to a new multiyear contract. He told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he had agreed "in principle" to terms of a deal.

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Kevin Curtis will undergo surgery today to repair a sports hernia and will probably be sidelined for the start of the regular season.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

New Mexico is penalized by NCAA

The NCAA put New Mexico's program on three years of probation and cut five scholarships as punishment for academic violations involving two former assistant coaches.

The sanctions imposed by the NCAA's infractions committee went beyond the university's self-imposed penalties -- two years of probation and fewer scholarship reductions.

MEDIA

Chargers' Merriman will be in-studio analyst

Shawne Merriman is already one of the NFL's best defensive players. This season, he'll be the quintessential multi-tasker.

The San Diego Chargers linebacker will be an in-studio analyst for FSN's Pro Football Preview, which Fox says will be the first time a current player has served in a full-time capacity for any national pregame studio show for any sport.

The show will be taped in Los Angeles on Thursdays, and Merriman will be flown by private plane to and from San Diego, as not to miss any practices.

-- Sam Farmer

BASKETBALL

Cromwell leaves USC for personal reasons

USC forward RouSean Cromwell has left the basketball team, going home to be with his family in Memphis, Tenn., for personal reasons.

The 6-foot-11 junior, who averaged 0.7 points and one rebound in 2007-08, will not play for at least the first half of the season, according to a team statement.

-- David Wharton

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