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Kenseth, JGR Issued Huge Penalties By NASCAR

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Wednesday, April 24 2013

Matt Kenseth and his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team are in big trouble. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Brian Lawdermilk)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

NASCAR officials have slammed Matt Kenseth and his Joe Gibbs Racing team with major penalties as a result of rules violations discovered in the post-race engine inspection April 23 at the series’ Research and Development Center.

The violations appear to be connect to use of an illegal piston rod.

Toyota Racing Development officials immediately took blame for the part in question.

Kenseth has lost 50 championship driver points; the Coors Light Pole award from April 19 at Kansas Speedway will not be allowed for eligibility into the 2014 Sprint Unlimited; the first place finish from April 21 at Kansas Speedway will not earn bonus points toward the accumulated aggregate driver points total after the completion of the first 26 events of the current season and will not be credited towards the eligibility for a driver Wild Card position.

The No. 20 car was found to have violated Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4J (any determination by NASCAR officials that the race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules); and 20-5.5.3 (E) (Only magnetic steel connecting rods with a minimum weight of 525.0 grams will be permitted; connecting rod failed to meet the minimum connecting rod weight) of the 2013 rule book.

As a result of this violation, NASCAR also has assessed the following penalties:

· Crew chief Jason Ratcliff has been fined $200,000 and suspended from NASCAR until the completion of the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship points events (a period of time that also includes the non-points NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race) and placed on probation until Dec. 31.

· Car owner Joe Gibbs has lost 50 championship car owner points; the first place finish from April 21 at Kansas Speedway will not earn bonus points toward the accumulated aggregate car owner points total after the completion of the first 26 events of the current season and will not be credited towards the eligibility for a car owner Wild Card position; has had the owner’s license for the No. 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car suspended until the completion of the next six championship points events, therefore being ineligible to receive championship car owner points during that period of time.

· The loss of five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Manufacturer Championship points.

JGR issued the following statement after the penalties were announced:

“Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) is aware of the penalty issued by NASCAR today regarding the engine in our No. 20 car used in last week’s Sprint Cup Series race in Kansas. It is our understanding that one of the eight connecting rods on the engine was ruled too light. We are working with our partners at TRD on this issue. In the meantime we will plan to appeal the penalty.”

TRD, which manufactures the engines, has taken the blame for the illegal part.

Lee White, president of TRD USA, issued the following statement: “During NASCAR’s routine post-race tear down of Matt Kenseth’s race-winning car and engine from Kansas Speedway, one of our engine connecting rods weighed in approximately three grams under the legal minimum weight of 525 grams. None of the other seven connecting rods were found to be under the minimum weight. We take full responsibility for this issue with the engine used by the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) team this past Sunday in Kansas – JGR is not involved in the process of selecting parts or assembling the Cup Series engines. It was a simple oversight on TRD’s part and there was no intent to deceive, or to gain any type of competitive advantage. Toyota is a company that was built on integrity, and that remains one of the guiding principles of the company. The goal of TRD has always been – and will continue to be – to build high-performance engines that are reliable, durable and powerful, and within the guidelines established by NASCAR.”

NASCAR seizes three cars after every race. The winner, the runner-up and a random selection. Those cars are taken to the R and D Center and given detailed inspection which cannot be performed at the tracks after races.

Also taken Sunday were the cars of Kasey Kahne and Bobby Labonte.

Late Wednesday, David Wilson, senior vice president of TRD, went to great lengths to insist that it was not JGR’s fault.

Wilson told SpeedTV, “That is one of the first things that we wanted to make clear, and want to make clear is that the engines, the selection of the parts, the manufacturing, all of that, is provided to our team partners turnkey out of our facility in Costa Mesa, Calif. The connecting rods themselves, getting right into some of the detail, we, along with a lot of our competitors, outsource a number of our parts outside our immediate facility – connecting rods being one of them. We happen to source them from a Tier 1, ISO-certified supplier. What that means is this particular supplier is certified to and supports, and provides production parts to almost all of our production competitors, not just racing parts.

“That’s one of the reasons why we are taken aback by how this could even happen. We rely on our suppliers and our vendors to do some of the quality checking because it’s physically impossible to check every single part multiple times. Again, that’s part of what qualifies you for this certification. In general terms, the Space Shuttle is built by ISO-certified suppliers. Again, we are working with this particular supplier, ultimately, to be fair, and the reason I’m not even naming them, is that its TRD’s responsibility to insure the parts whether we make them in house, or bring them in externally, meet our criteria, and obviously, NASCAR’s criteria as well.”

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Wednesday, April 24 2013


  • Richard Moore says:

    Roger your right 2 or 3 grams wouldn’t improve the performance.
    But NASCAR is very serious about engines, all owners, crew chiefs know this and they don’t cross the line, they have a specific sizes, weights on each part to follow, anything out side of this is a violation.
    Just like you cannot buy alcohol the day before you turn legal age no gray area.
    To many grey areas and were all screwed.

  • Roger Bonus says:

    it just doesn’t seem like 3 grams on 1 connecting rod could possibly make a difference! They should concentrate on actual cheating where someone is using an unapproved part that gives them an unfair advantage. This is like drug testing athletes and kicking them out for having pot in their system when you know that pot has never increased athletic ability.

  • REF says:

    I know it is Nascar’s policy, but I would like for them to start taking the wins away and reward the second place driver with the win. I know the penalty doesn’t allow the win to be counted at the chase, but it does count for Matt’s career wins. I believe it would be more of an embarrassment to the driver to have the win removed.

  • Clyde Roe says:

    Can anyone explain the reason for NASCAR requiring “Only magnetic steel connecting rods” be used? The reason for a minimum weight is understandable, but why non-magnetic stainless steel or titanium connecting rods of the same weight would not on the surface seem to be an unfair advantage.

    • Roger Bonus says:

      sometimes they just want to outlaw exotic stuff like titanium so that all of the teams aren’t forced to adopt them to stay at par with the rest of the field. Magnetic steel is probably cheaper and will keep overall costs down for everyone.