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Hendrick gets appeal date from NASCAR

The National Stock Car Racing Commission has announced that the appeal hearing requested by Hendrick Motorsports has been set for Thursday, Sept. 28. Earlier reports indicated that the hearing would be the Monday or Tuesday of that week. However, Hendrick and GM representatives wanted time to prepare their presentation.

Hendrick Motorsports is appealing the penalty issued by NASCAR officials following the win by Jeff Gordon in the Chevrolet Monte Carlo 400 at Richmond International Raceway on Sept. 9.

The penalty included a $25,000 fine against crew chief Robbie Loomis, and 100 points docked from driver Jeff Gordon and owner Rick Hendrick. The penalty was issued for using an unapproved intake manifold, a piece that was made by GM and had passed several race inspections.

That is why the appeal was issued. Because the part had been considered legal for several months, and because other GM cars must have been using it. Also, GM thought the part was approved.

However, several crew members and drivers aren't happy about Hendrick getting to appeal.

Crew chief Larry McReynolds, who runs Mike Skinner's team for Richard Childress, says that NASCAR should have thrown the book at Gordon. ''A rule is a rule, whether you break it a little or a lot. When you take points away, that makes a statement that you did something wrong. Did it help Jeff Gordon win that race? Probably not. But that carburetor spacer didn't help Mark Martin win Richmond in 1990.''

Jeff Burton agreed. ''Anything less than taking points away from Jeff would be wrong,'' Burton said. ''They caught Jack (Roush) with an intake manifold last year in the truck series, even though that manifold had been through previous inspections and run races. But they caught it and said they didn't like it. Just because it's been through inspection before, doesn't mean it's legal. ''NASCAR missed it, and they penalized Greg Biffle, and they penalized Mark Martin, cost both of them championships, because they took points away. So anything less than taking points away from Jeff Gordon would be viewed as being biased. If they don't take points from Jeff, they will be wrong. ''I don't know if magnesium would make more horsepower than aluminum,'' Burton said. ''But there was a reason they wanted to build it out of magnesium rather than aluminum. It doesn't matter if it was a competitive advantage, because it was an unapproved part.

''If you're supposed to run GM Part Number 80624 and it is an aluminum casted intake manifold, but you run that same part number but it's a magnesium manifold, then someone has tried to manipulate the rules. And they've got to be penalized. ''Now I don't think that intake manifold won the race at Richmond. I believe what won that race was they had good pit strategy and good track position and Jeff did a great job of driving the car. But the only way we can have structure in this garage is when people do something wrong, you have to penalize them. If you don't, nobody will ever do anything right.''