DOVER, Del. -- Penske Racing crew chiefs Paul Wolfe and Todd Gordon, joined by team manager Travis Geisler, returned to the track for the first time Friday at Dover International Speedway after completing suspensions that included two points races and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series all-star event.
"For me ? it was tough," Wolfe, crew chief for defending series champion Brad Keselowski, said of having to sit out races at Darlington Raceway and Charlotte Motor Speedway. "It was tougher to deal with that I thought it would be.
"I'm a hands-on kind of guy and for me to be able to watch the car in practice and see how it runs around other cars is important for me ? to see that and make decisions based on what changes to make.
"Everyone that stepped up and helped out did a great job and did all that we could ask but obviously it is just not the same."
Keselowski has fallen six spots, from fourth to 10th, in the points battle since NASCAR officials hit the Penske organization with six-race suspensions and fines following the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway. At issue were changes to the rear-end housings of the No. 2 and 22 Fords.
Car chiefs and team engineers for the respective teams were suspended as well.
All of those involved continued working at the track while the ruling was under appeal, and on May 7, the suspensions were reduced to two points races and the all-star event.
Wolfe, who was replaced by interim crew chief Kevin Buskirk, said his team's problems weren't necessarily the result of his absence.
"It started a little earlier than before I was gone," Wolfe said. "We had some issues at Richmond ? and lost points there. At Darlington we felt like we had a competitive car but we had issues there with a loose wheel and getting caught up in a wreck.
"It seems like as a team we are going through one of those slumps right now. We aren't hitting the panic button by any means and Brad has kept a positive attitude through it all."
Gordon, crew chief for Joey Logano, said there was "definitely a disconnect" with not being allowed to be at the track.
"That is why NASCAR implements the penalties they do, to make sure there is a penalty to it," Gordon said. "There is a penalty to it."
Steve Reis served as crew chief during Gordon's absence. Logano finished 22nd at Darlington and fifth at Charlotte.
"I think it is just a testament to the strength of the people that we have around this race team and their ability to all step up and help the whole situation," Gordon said. "We did as much front planning as we could before we left the race shop and I think we had a good implemented plan going forward.
"Fortunately we had good speed to unload with and didn't have to deviate from the plan too hard."
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