NASCAR reminded team owners, crews and owners in the most explicit terms possible: do not mess with the engines.
After the Toyota engine from Matt Kenseth’s No. 20 car, the winner of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway, failed an inspection, stock-car racing’s governing body dropped the hammer on Kenseth, owner Joe Gibbs and crew chief Jason Ratcliff today.
Kenseth was stripped of 50 driver points in the standings (he got 48 for the win) and lost the three bonus points he earned for the victory, points that would have been used in seeding for the Chase for the Spring Cup championship if he qualified for that. The victory will not count toward his eligibility for a wild-card berth in the Chase. He was stripped of his pole victory, too.
In an unusual move, Gibbs’s owner’s license was suspended for the next six races, he won’t earn owner points over that time and he lost 50 car owner points. He can, however, attend races while suspended.
Ratcliff was fined $200,000, suspended six races (including the non-points NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race) and placed on probation for the rest of the year.
“It is our understanding that one of the eight connecting rods on the engine was ruled too light,” JGR said in a statement (via ESPN). “We are working with our partners at TRD [Toyota Racing Development] on this issue.”
Toyota says the part at issue in Kenseth’s car was three grams underweight. For reference, a penny is about 2.5 grams.
— Jay Busbee (@jaybusbee) April 24, 2013
The car passed inspection immediately after the race but failed secondary tests at NASCAR’s Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C., where the winning car is always examined. There it was determined that a connecting rod did not meet the minimum weight requirement, ESPN and the Associated Press reported.
Kenseth has won two races this season, JGR four out of the last six.