Roger Penske said the team he owns was working in "a gray area" of the rule book when NASCAR confiscated parts from the cars of defending Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski and teammate Joey Logano last weekend.

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Penske says team was

‘working in a gray area’

Roger Penske maintained Saturday his team was working in a gray area of the rule book when NASCAR confiscated parts from the cars of defending Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski and teammate Joey Logano last weekend.

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“I certainly don’t think it’s cheating,” Penske said. “You are looking at the rules and you are working in a gray area. We all work in the gray areas. We’re trying to be as competitive as we can be, we’ve got very creative minds and it takes a lot of creative minds to be competitive.”

NASCAR seized parts from the rear-end housings of both Penske Racing Fords during prerace inspection at Texas on April 13. On Wednesday, NASCAR suspended both crew chiefs and five other team members for six races, levied $200,000 in fines and docked each driver 25 points.

Penske will appeal to a three-member panel.

He said the parts on both cars had been approved by NASCAR, but officials have accused the team of modifying them after approval.

“The parts that we had were approved parts, they are concerned that we modified them,” Penske said. “That’s where the discussion is.”

Crafton prevails

Matt Crafton called his truck “junk” and his crew changed out springs, adjusted shocks and messed with sway bars to get ready for the SFP 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race Saturday at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.

“We made wholesale changes,” Crafton said, “and luckily it worked.”

Crafton held off a late run by Joey Coulter for his third career victory.

Franchitti earns pole

Dario Franchitti won the pole for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Long Beach, an IndyCar Series event.


Nadal to face Djokovic

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Rafael Nadal of Spain will meet in the Monte Carlo Masters final in Monaco for a second consecutive year.

Despite their respective injury concerns, they will play for the 16th time in a championship match. Nadal leads 8-7 in their finals.

“I am not the kind of player who is stupid and says, ‘I want to play against the best,’ ” said Nadal, adding he would rather face an easier opponent Sunday.

Nadal has won the last eight titles on the Monte Carlo red clay. He defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) in the semifinal round and has reached five successive finals since returning from a seven-month layoff for a left-knee injury.

Djokovic, who twisted his right ankle two weeks ago in a Davis Cup victory over the United States, cruised past unseeded Fabio Fognini of Italy 6-2, 6-1 to reach the final.

Nadal said he thinks Djokovic’s injury was tame in comparison.

“He stopped for, what, a few days for his ankle?” Nadal asked.


• Top-ranked Serena Williams evened the United States’ best-of-five Fed Cup World Group playoff tennis match against Sweden, waiting out a long rain delay to beat 66th-ranked Johanna Larsson 6-2, 6-2 in Delray Beach, Fla.

In the opener, Sweden’s Sofia Arvidsson beat Sloane Stephens 6-4, 4-6, 6-1.

Stephens, ranked 16th, was clearly nervous in her first Fed Cup singles match.

“Obviously just got to keep pushing and get ready for the next one,” she said.

The reverse singles matches and a doubles match are scheduled for Sunday.

Saul Alvarez unified the 154-pound boxing titles, unanimously outpointing Austin Trout before a crowd of 39,247 at the Alamodome in San Antonio. Alvarez (42-0-1) knocked down Trout (26-1) once and staggered him several times.

• In Grade III races for 3-year-old Thoroughbreds, Departed ($5.80 to win) took the $750,000 Illinois Derby at Hawthorne and Winning Cause ($15.60) prevailed in the $200,000 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland in Kentucky.

• Top-ranked Florida won its first NCAA women’s gymnastics title, edging runner-up Oklahoma 197.575 to 197.375 in Los Angeles. Florida had the highest scores of any team on floor exercise and vault.

Alabama finished third and host UCLA was fourth.

Florida coach Rhonda Faehn, 41, was an All-American gymnast at UCLA.

• Michigan took the men’s gymnastics title in State College, Pa., the fifth in program history. The Wolverines had 443.200 points. Oklahoma was second with 440.100 and Stanford was third at 436.150.

• Emirates Team New Zealand won both fleet races to take a five-point lead over Oracle Team USA Slingsby heading into the final day of the America’s Cup World Series sailing competition in Naples, Italy.

Seattle Times news services