NASCAR has announced severe penalties for the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota team after the engine of its race-winning car from Kansas Speedway failed inspection at the series’ research and development center in Concord, North Carolina.
Driver Matt Kenseth has lost 50 championship points, as well as the additional bonus points he attained for winning last weekend’s STP 400. His pole run at Kansas will also not be allowed for eligibility into the 2014 Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway.
Kenseth’s crew chief, Jason Ratcliff, has been fined $200,000 and will be suspended for the next six Sprint Cup points events (the period also includes the non-points Sprint All-Star Race). He will also be placed on probation until Dec. 31.
Joe Gibbs has lost 50 championship car owner points and the owner’s license for the No. 20 car has been suspended for the next six points events, which means he cannot accumulate owner’s points during that period.
Toyota has lost five points in the manufacturer’s championship.
In a statement relayed by the AP’s Jenna Fryer, Joe Gibbs Racing said that they were working with its engine designer, Toyota Racing Development, on the issue and that they would plan to appeal the penalties.
TRD president Lee White also released a statement, saying that his company took “full responsibility” for the problem. The statement disclosed that the lighter connecting rod was approximately three grams under the legal minimum weight of 525 grams.
“It was a simple oversight on TRD’s part and there was no intent to deceive, or to gain any type of competitive advantage,” White said.
Kenseth’s car passed regular post-race inspection at the track according to ESPN.com’s David Newton, but the winning engine was taken to the R&D center for further evaluation — a standard procedure after race weekends. The Wisconsin native held off Kasey Kahne in the final laps to win the STP 400 (his second Cup win of 2013), leading a race-high 163 of 267 laps along the way.