Crew chiefs for 4 cars ordered to sit out race

February 14th, 2007  

Topic: Crew chiefs for 4 cars ordered to sit out race

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- For the second year in row, rules violations in Daytona 500 qualifying have resulted in a stiff penalty for the crew chiefs held responsible.

Four crew chiefs were suspended and fined Tuesday by NASCAR and will be absent from Sunday's race barring an unlikely successful appeal.
Kenny Francis and Robbie Reiser, crew chiefs for Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth, respectively, were suspended for four races and fined $50,000 each. The teams also were docked 50 driver and owner points, which essentially means they start the season in the hole.
Both teams' qualifying times were disallowed Sunday, when unapproved aerodynamic modifications in the rear wheel wells and oil tank areas were discovered during post-qualifying inspection.
Alterations to the fasteners on the rear spoilers by two other teams were discovered in pre-qualifying inspection. The cars of Scott Riggs and Elliott Sadler were fixed before their qualifying runs so the times were allowed to stand.
But the crew chiefs did not get off scot-free. Rodney Childers (Riggs) and Josh Browne (Sadler) were suspended for two races, fined $25,000 and the teams were docked 25 driver and owner points.
The precedent was set last year when Chad Knaus, crew chief for Jimmie Johnson, was suspended four races for rules violations during qualifying. Johnson went on to win the race without Knaus and the Nextel Cup championship with him.
NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said the issues surrounding Michael Waltrip's car have yet to be resolved. His Toyota was impounded and its intake manifold confiscated after an unidentified substance was discovered. The manifold was sent to NASCAR's research and development center in Concord, N.C., for testing, and officials plan to take a closer look at his car when the garage reopens today after being closed the past two days.
Pemberton, a former crew chief, said he understands the pressure teams are under to perform in the season's marquee event, but that doesn't mean he condones cheating.
"Everybody pushes the limits. It's Daytona," he said. "But we will continue to raise the penalties until we get everybody's attention. We're trying to grab this thing by the horns as soon as possible."
Kenseth's car is owned by Jack Roush and the other three penalized teams are fielded by Evernham Motorsports. None of the principals was at the track Tuesday, but Roush and Evernham issued statements.
"I respect and accept NASCAR's determination that the car was out of compliance as it was inspected," Roush said. "I have asked (team president) Geoff Smith to evaluate whether the penalties assessed are unduly harsh for the circumstances before making a final decision as to whether or not we will appeal."
In the same statement, Smith said an appeal is likely pending further review. "The extreme harshness of the penalty surprises me given NASCAR's recent history of imposing lesser penalties on habitual offenders engaged in radically more flagrant offenses," he said.
Evernham, too, said he needed more time to determine his best course of action.
"We regret this situation has occurred and apologize to our partners, team members, fans and NASCAR," he said. "We did not intend to infringe on the rules and will research this matter to ensure it does not occur again."
The largest fine imposed on a crew chief was in 1995 when Evernham, then with Jeff Gordon, was billed for $60,000.
NASCAR chairman Brian France said allowances can be made for mistakes, but not when they're intentional.
"Trying to get ahead of the rules will not work," he said. "We'll make sure of that, one way or the other."

Call Star reporter Steve Ballard at (317) 444-6184.
February 14th, 2007  
Team Infidel
i already posted this
February 14th, 2007  
Oops, damn, guess Redleg will have to take away 2 milbucks... oh wait... nevermind.

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