Kenseth hit with big points penalty

Kenseth's win in Kansas still stands - but he lost more points than he earned

Kenseth’s win in Kansas still stands – but he lost more points than he earned

Toyota Racing Development has taken responsibility for NASCAR sanctions that has seen Matt Kenseth hit with a hefty points penalty, while his crew chief has been suspended and fined US$200,000 for engine irregularities following his win in Kansas last weekend.

Kenseth’s Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota failed post-race engine inspection at the NASCAR Research and Development Centre in North Carolina, with one of the connecting rods under the minimum weight of 525 grams by 2.5 grams.

Although Kenseth officially keeps his race victory, he has been hit with a 50-point penalty (first place in a Sprint Cup race earns 43 points), the result is not counted for wildcard positions in the Chase for the Cup, and his pole is not recognised for eligibility for the Sprint Unlimited pre-season event in 2014.

Car owner Joe Gibbs has not only lost 50 championship car owner points, he will not score points towards this title for the next six events. Crew chief Jason Ratcliff has been fined US$200,000 and suspended for six NASCAR events. The team is appealing the severity of the penalties and Ratcliff will be at race meetings until the appeal is heard.

All engines are supplied by Toyota Racing Development and a key official from TRD says the illegal connecting rod from a supplier and slipped through the quality control process.

TRD President Lee White has said no competitive advantage was gained, especially with the other seven rods being OK.

“No one is going to use heavy components, but no one is intentionally going to make con rods light, particularly one out of seven. … I guarantee you there is no performance gain because of this oversight,” White told Bob Pockrass at The Sporting News.

TRD gets its cranks, rods, pistons, pins, camshafts and valve train components from outside vendors.

“We don’t have the head count to have people in our quality control group able to look at every single part that comes in the world. … This was a very costly mistake,” White said.

“Totally our fault. … We’ve never, ever, never, not once, discussed going under the minimum weight on con rods. There is no reason to. This is an accidental occurrence.”

“It is on my head. I accept full responsibility. It has zero to do with the team.”

White would not commit to TRD paying the fine or reimburse the Gibbs organisation, which began using engines built by TRD in 2012.

“I’m not going to say, ‘No,’ because under the circumstances, it’s pretty hard to argue (that) that wouldn’t be the right thing to do,” White said.

“Under the circumstances, with there being a potential appeal, we should let the appeal process go through before we start having discussions like that.”

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