Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Matt Kenseth/Joe Gibbs Racing hit with unprecedented NASCAR penalty

Driver loses 50 championship points; crew chief fined $200,000, suspended six races

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Penalties have been handed down to the No. 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team as a result of rule violations discovered in the post-race engine inspection April 23 at the NASCAR Research and Development Center.
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 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).

• 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 toward 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.

• Driver Matt 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 toward the eligibility for a driver Wild Card position.

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


  1. This is absurd. 3 grams? The weight of three pieces of rice. Give me a f***ing break. So what's the penalty in the future for something that really makes a difference? Banishment from the sport?

  2. This is absurd beyond imagination. NASCAR and Brian France have lost their minds - and permanently lost me and I suspect millions of other 40-year fans like me. Here's what the rule book should consist of: Only stock-bodied cars running stock engines will be allowed; the only modifications allowed will be for safety, such as the current roll cages; cars will have to meet minimum homologation standards, like they did in the 60s and 70s (typically, a minimum of 500 units sold to the general purpose for street use - considering the larger market today, we could set that at 1,000 or more). All drivers much wear safety gear, as they do today. Cars will burn pump gasoline and run one type of tire, approved by NASCAR with an eye to safety, at all tracks. Anyone caught cheating will be suspended for one year the first offense, two years the second, and permanently for a third. End of rule book. Speeds will drop, but as someone who's seen races ranging from quarter-mile dirt tracks to Daytona, I know that's irrelevant - the fastest-seeming tracks are in fact, the shortest ones. This would put stock back in stock car racing, and leave victory up to the skill of the drivers, the engineering of the car makers, and pit crews. Is this going to happen? Never in a million years. Which is about when I'll ever attend or watch another NASCAR race.

  3. That's BS!!!! for 3 grams. Pretty harsh penalties, especially for 'unprecedented' penalties. NASCAR and Brian France, is THIS your way of 'fixing' things so that the end game winner/championship moves toward drivers of YOUR liking?

    I've been a STRONG NASCAR fan in the last 8 years, and seriously NASCAR, you need the fans that you have because in recent years changes and decisions you have made have RUN VETERAN FANS OFF!!!!! Can't you SEE?!? Don't you LISTEN? You are ruining the sport and turning it into WWF-like sport! C'mon! I HATE wrestling like that!

    Get it together because you are KILLING a sport that SO MANY have loved and so many others have spent a good part of their lives defining and bettering.

    Get off your high-horse and knock it off!

  4. Remember the college basketball coaches trimming points? This is the same thing on the NASCAR circuit. I began covering NASCAR races in Richmond, VA in 1959 and continued for several networks over the years. I agree that this is BS but I can only think they want to make NASCAR resemble wrestling. Only fitting for a FOX network which insists on sensationalism. Such a shame. So much hard work by drivers, crews and fans (who have to cough up enough to go to these races). OK, you want it your way...unfortunately that's not our way anymore...and you wonder why viewership is waning...not to mention empty seats in the stands.

  5. Nascar lost me several years ago. They've killed innovation by saying that you do it my way or it's cheating. It's no fun anymore.

  6. Everyone calm down. The bar was obviously set very high on this one for shock value and to send a resounding message that there will be no tolerance for engine related infractions, as there should NOT be.

    I would suspect that after all of the appeals have been followed thru with that some of the penalties will be cut in half, but still bite hard. And if you are gaining an advantage in the engine, outside the rules, the penalty should hurt and garner attention.

  7. At this point Nascar should just build and maintain a fleet of 43 cars that they they assign randomly on race weekends to the teams. They allow for zero independence in the cars these days so why not just make it an IROC style series that is centered around the drivers? I don't have a problem with handing out a penalty to the 20 team, I just have a problem with the severity of it. Anyone who thinks that they were cheating by putting a connecting rod in the engine that was 3 grams(!!!!) lighter than the rule book states is out to lunch. This provided zero advantage to the team. Zero.

  8. Craziness. Having an unbalanced engine is not an advantage. I would want the weight of the rod and the piston combination for each 8 cylinders measured. Was he light 3 grams on the rod, but heavy 3 grams on the piston??

    I need a job with the NASCAR Foundation. They are racking up quite a nice budget this year.

    1. You must be getting info from some other source because nothing in this article states exactly what they weight was, only that it was not in compliance. As for whether or not it was an advantage... somebody must've thought it was or why would they do it? It's like the Patriots video tape deal... people were quick to claim there was no way to gain an unfair advantage, yet the Patriots chose to do it, and to conceal it, so obviously THEY THOUGHT they were gaining an advantage!

  9. On one hand, the classiest guy in the sport gets hit with 50 owners points, and has virtually lost any possibility of his driver winning the championship. His driver lost not only the race, but a spot in the first money race of next season. The crew chief lost $200k, plus his job for the next six races.

    On the other hand, a convicted felon, whose star driver's crew chief has a LONG and storied history of cheating, get all but the monetary portion of his team's penalty waived; and by a personal friend no less! And, Bill France calls THIS justice?

    Yep, keep on working to win fans, NASCAR!

  10. Heard one commenter on Sirius Nascar radio say it was a bad deal but a necessary penalty. If Gibbs was not penalized then every team would start showing up with engines and other parts made & bought from an outside source. Their view is to be expected. Just wait till Larry Mac, Michael Waltrip & the rest of the Nascar suck up give their unwanted opinions. These penalties are beyond stupid, there are insane.

  11. Nascar has gone way too far on this penalty. Gibbs receives their engines already assembled from Toyota racing. How on earth could they possibly know that one of the rods was 3 grams underweight. If anyone should be fined (and they should not) it should be the manufacturer of the engine. I'm not sure what Nascar is trying to achieve with these stupid penalties, but they are driving fans away from the sport in alarming numbers and then wondering why they have so many empty seats. Every since Brian France has taken over it has been all down hill. I also think a large part of the blame lies with Robin Pemberton, whom I hear is on a major power trip.

  12. Blame Hendricks for all these penalties. Spoiled crooked blubber boy rick has been greasing the boys at nascar with tons of government motors cash. Toyota and Ford don't stand a chance in this highly political crooked fixed joke of a sport!!