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Appeals Panel Slashes Penalties Issued To Kenseth, JGR

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Wednesday, May 8 2013

The penalties issued to Matt Kenseth and his team after the Kansas Cup race have been reduced by the Appeals Panel. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Penalties issued to the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team and driver Matt Kenseth were scaled back significantly by the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel on Wednesday.

Almost every penalty issued to the team was rescinded or reduced.

The penalties were issued after Kenseth’s Kansas Speedway race-winning car was found to have a piston rod out of spec. JGR did not contend the rod was not the correct weight, but that the part in question was produced by Toyota Racing Development and that the team had no access to the rod.

The penalties concern Sections 12-1: Actions detrimental to stock car racing; 12-4J: Any determination by NASCAR Officials that race equipment used in the event does not conform to the NASCAR rules detailed in Section 20 of the NASCAR rule book, or has not been approved by NASCAR prior to the event; and 20-5.5.3E: Only solid magnetic steel connecting rods with a minimum weight of 525.0 grams will be permitted. Connecting rod failed to meet minimum connecting rod weight.

The original penalties assessed to the No. 20 team were:

· Crew chief Jason Ratcliff: Fined $200,000 and suspended from NASCAR until the completion of the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship point events (a period of time that also includes the non-points Sprint All-Star Race)

· Car owner Joe Gibbs: Loss of 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; had the owner’s license for the No. 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car suspended until the completion of the next six championship point events, therefore being ineligible to receive championship car owner points during that period of time.

· Driver Matt Kenseth: Loss of 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.

· Manufacturer: The loss of five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series manufacturer championship points.

The Appellants appealed all penalties listed above. The Appellants also requested and were granted a deferral of the suspensions until such time as the hearing could be convened.

Upon hearing the testimony, it was a unanimous decision by the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel to amend the original penalties assessed by NASCAR. The amendments are as follows:

· Crew chief Jason Ratcliff: The $200,000 fine remains intact; NASCAR suspension now covers one championship points event. In addition, he will be placed on NASCAR probation until the completion of the next three championship points events following his reinstatement;

· Car owner Joe Gibbs: Loss of championship owner points has been reduced to 12. All other components of his penalty were rescinded;

· Driver Matt Kenseth; Loss of championship driver points has been reduced to 12. All other components of his penalty were rescinded;

· Manufacturer: The loss of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series manufacturer championship points has been increased to seven.

The points adjustment post-appeal moves Kenseth from 11th in the standings to fourth. The panel also reinstated the three bonus points he earned for the victory for seeding in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.

“Glad to have today behind us so we can get our focus back on racing. I respect NASCAR and the appeals process, I feel like they got it right,” Kenseth posted on Twitter.

Former driver and current Fox Sports SPEED analyst Kyle Petty said the panel did the right thing.

“I don’t think it’s stunning,” Petty said in a press release. “To me, I think it’s smart. I don’t think the Gibbs organization did anything wrong when you look back at it. They bought a product that they are not allowed to delve into, that they are not allowed to change or touch from an outside manufacturer. I think the rules are antiquated, and I think this should be a wake-up call to NASCAR to look through the rulebook, as the sport changes, and change some of their findings and change the way they do things. I see it as one of the fairest things that I’ve seen NASCAR do in a long time.”

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Wednesday, May 8 2013
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