Whatever is wrong on a car, the team is responsible. That’s NASCAR‘s stance after harsh criticism from Matt Kenseth and the Joe Gibbs Racing team for penalties assessed after and illegal part was discovered in the engine.
After Matt Kenseth won the NASCAR Sprint Cup race in Kansas on Sunday his engine, according to USA Today Sports was taken back and examined at the North Carolina Research & Development Center for a thorough inspection.
Once opened up to NASCAR inspectors, one connecting rod was found to be approximately three grams – less than the weight of an envelope – too light.
As a penalty, Kenseth was docked 50 points, plus his three bonus points. The also fined Crew chief Jason Ratcliff $200,000, and he and team owner Joe Gibbs were both suspended for six races. They are appealing the decision. Kenseth called the penalties “grossly unfair” and “borderline shameful”.
”I respect NASCAR’s view on it as far as the part was illegal so by the letter of the law, the part’s illegal and there’s consequences for that. I do not feel like the spirit of the law was compromised,” he said. ”That’s where we felt like the severity of the penalty is extremely harsh.
”We won Kansas, you can bet your bottom dollar on that. You make that change in that engine and that race doesn’t change a bit.”
The issue they’re having is that they don’t control where the parts come from or the installation. The car came from the manufacturer, Toyota’s Racing Development (TRD) and aside from installing the engine JGR can’t do anything else with it. TRD has accepted responsibility, but according to NASCAR’s vice president of competition, Robin Pemberton, it’s still the team’s responsibility:
”At this time we will not and cannot penalize vendors,” Pemberton said at Richmond International Raceway. ”We’d be at it all day long, whether it was a shock that went bad, a spring that collapsed that caused the car (to be) low or any of those things.
”But when you go down that road, there are a million pieces on these cars, and so we choose to go down the path that it’s the team’s responsibility for quality control, to check on the parts and pieces that they bring and compete with at the racetrack.”
Some feel it’s time to look at the rules and make a change.
”Back in the day, most of the engines were built by the race team,” Ratcliff said. ”Now you have a handful of major engine builders that supply engines to most all the teams in the garage. How do you hold them accountable? I think it’s time for some change on how NASCAR approaches it because times have changed so much.”
Pemberton feels they’re consistent with how they handle rule violations:
”We feel like we’re consistent, but not every violation is exactly the same,” Pemberton said. ”We do our best and we feel like we do a good job interpreting the rules and levying the penalties they deserve.”
Whatever the case, until the change comes, Ratcliff has some fines to pay. We hope TRD will pay most, if not all of it for him. Ratcliff says, he hopes he doesn’t have to pay it:
”I hope not. If I do I’m going to be broke – we need to start a relief fund,” he said.
Let the relief begin!
Your Jersey Girlfriend,