Matt Kenseth gets to keep the Kansas 400 win, but not much else (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)
By Mike Mulhern
NASCAR officials are going wild this spring handing out penalties, and Kansas 400 winner Matt Kenseth is the latest victim.
Post-race inspectors didn't like the engine connecting rods that Kenseth had in his engine, when they tore it down at the Concord, N.C., R&D center.
And NASCAR hit the Kenseth-Joe Gibbs team with a huge, apparently record-setting penalty:
-- A $200,000 fine;
-- a six-race suspension for crew chief Jason Ratcliff, and probation till Dec. 31st;
-- a whopping 50-point penalty, plus loss of Kansas bonus points, for both Kenseth in the driver standings and team owner Gibbs in the owner standings;
-- the race win will not count toward the 'wild card' playoff spot;
-- Gibbs himself will have his owner's license suspended for the next six Sprint Cup points events, meaning he and the team will receive no championship points over that span;
-- Kenseth's Kansas pole will not count toward eligibility in the 2014 Sprint unlimited shootout at Daytona;
-- And Toyota, which builds the engines at its Los Angeles facility, will lose five points in the manufacturers' championship standings.
NASCAR's official announcement:
"The No. 20 car was found to have violated Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4J (any determination by NASCAR officials that the race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules); and 20-5.5.3 (E) (Only magnetic steel connecting rods with a minimum weight of 525.0 grams will be permitted; connecting rod failed to meet the minimum connecting rod weight) of the 2013 rule book."
Gibbs issued a brief statement: "It is our understanding that one of the eight connecting rods on the engine was ruled too light. We are working with our partners at TRD on this issue. In the meantime we will plan to appeal the penalty."
Toyota racing boss Lee White also issues a terse statement:
"During NASCAR's routine post-race tear down of Matt Kenseth's race-winning car and engine from Kansas Speedway, one of our engine connecting rods weighed in approximately three grams under the legal minimum weight of 525 grams.
"None of the other seven connecting rods were found to be under the minimum weight.
"We take full responsibility for this issue with the engine used by the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) team this past Sunday in Kansas -- JGR is not involved in the process of selecting parts or assembling the Cup Series engines. It was a simple oversight on TRD’s part and there was no intent to deceive, or to gain any type of competitive advantage.
"Toyota is a company that was built on integrity, and that remains one of the guiding principles of the company. The goal of TRD has always been -- and will continue to be -- to build high-performance engines that are reliable, durable and powerful, and within the guidelines established by NASCAR."