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NASCAR hits Gibbs' guys with penalties for those trick oil pans

  Gibbs' crew chiefs Greg Zipadelli (L) and Dave Rogers (Photo: Toyota Motorsports)

   By Mike Mulhern



    NASCAR has dished out penalties to the Joe Gibbs teams for those unusual engine oil pans last weekend at Michigan International Speedway. But the montage of penalties doesn't really make a definitive statement about how the sanctioning body might really feel about the oil pans, which never made it on to the track.

   The Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano teams were all hit with the penalties for arriving at the track with novel oil pans that NASCAR apparently hadn't seen before or approved.
   The sanctioning body reserves the right to penalize any team for just about anything it doesn't like, of course, but rival crews, asked at Michigan about the situation, seemed generally surprised that NASCAR was making a major issue over the situation.
   One rival crew chief, who has won races this season, dismissed the Gibbs' oil pan debate by saying that Sprint Cup teams are changing many parts and pieces weekly this season, in similar fashion, without getting any official NASCAR approval.
    Even team owner Jack Roush said that since the parts never got on the track -- NASCAR made the three teams change the engines before first practice -- he didn't see any need for penalties.
   Nevertheless NASCAR Tuesday announced Tuesday the three Gibbs teams were indeed being penalized:
    "All three of the Joe Gibbs Racing cars were found to be in violation of Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4-J (any determination by NASCAR officials that the race equipment used in an event does not conform to NASCAR rules detailed in Section 20 of the NASCAR rule book, or has not been approved by NASCAR prior to the event); and 20-5.5.4A (oil pan, failure to submit component) of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rule Book," the sanctioning body said.
    The penalties:
   -- All three crew chiefs, Mike Ford, Dave Rogers and Greg Zipadelli, were fined $50,000 each and placed on probation until Dec. 31;
   -- All three car chiefs, Chris Gillin, Wesley Sherrill and Jason Shapiro, respectively, and Gibbs' competition director Jimmy Makar were all also placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31.
   The penalties are considered relatively minor, particularly 'probation,' which is a long-standing nebulous penalty in this sport, without clear definition.
   The specific part at issue, the oil pan, is typically inspected every week at every track, by a NASCAR inspector using a creeper, so the teams were apparently not trying to hide the part.
   Indeed, NASCAR has not made the point that the oil pans in question were illegal, only that the teams had not had them specifically okayed by NASCAR.
   Hamlin, using an engine with a standard oil pan, won the Michigan 400 Sunday, and Busch finished third.

Finally someone who does a

Finally someone who does a little research before writing. You are the first one to have comments from other owners and crew chiefs I have seen. Even NASCAR said the only difference in JGR's pans and others was they were one piece versus two or three and that the weight of them was about the same as other teams were using.

From the email bag:

From the email bag:

You have always seemed to me to be a stable force in the NASCAR reporting world, so I am asking you to do something important. Important to both you and your columns and to NASCAR followers.

Please ask Hendrick Racing how many parts they have submitted to NASCAR for approval since the COT came about.

Please ask John Darby how many of the 1500 to 2000 parts contained in a Hendrick car ( and made by the team) are in their files as approved.

I think you will be greatly surprised.

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interesting point. i would

interesting point. i would think that, like any business 'approval' process,' nascar keeps paperwork delineating just which parts and pieces have been approved, and date-marked. i will ask.
thanks for the push....

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