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NASCAR hits Travis Kvapil-Bob Jenkins team with huge penalties for tire bleeder valves at Pocono

  Travis Kvapil: under the gun (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   NASCAR officials levied some hefty fines, suspensions and penalties on one of Bob Jenkins' Sprint Cup teams Wednesday for using what were apparently illegal 'bleeder' valve stem caps during Sunday's Pocono 500.
   Jenkins conceded "our mistake" and accepted the need for a NASCAR penalty, but he said he planned an immediate appeal.
   The penalties are substantial:
   -- Crew chief Steve Lane was fined $100,000 and suspended for the next 12 Cup events.
   -- Car chief Richard Bourgeois and tire specialist Michael Harrold have also been suspended from the next 12 Cup races.
   -- And driver Travis Kvapil and official team owner Doug Yates were docked 150 driver and 150 owner points respectively.
    Jenkins, who actually owns the team, though Yates is listed as the nominal owner, said "We take the rules of this sport very seriously, and we support NASCAR in its enforcement of those rules.
    "It was not our intent to put unapproved valve stem caps on our car at Pocono, a track where such a maneuver would clearly not provide any advantage. 
    "We are conducting our own internal investigation to determine how those parts got into our inventory and onto our car last weekend.
   "While we recognize we have to pay for our mistake, this was an unintentional, isolated incident.
    "We plan to immediately submit an appeal through NASCAR's formal appeal process as outlined by the NASCAR rule book."
    NASCAR's official statement: "The team was 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 the event does not conform to NASCAR rules); and 20-10.7J (unapproved modification to valve stem hardware) of the 2010 NASCAR Rule Book."
   'Bleeder' valves are a well-known device used in racing to keep the tire air pressure within certain limits, to improve handling. Under normal racing conditions, air pressure in a tire will increase significantly, making the tire feel 'harder' in the corners to the driver.
   However bleeder valves have not been legal in NASCAR.
   Hence, teams would typically lower initial air pressures to ameliorate that situation a bit. However several teams over the years have dropped initial air pressure to dangerously low levels, which can lead to a catastrophic blowout. So NASCAR several years ago adopted rules requiring teams to meet minimum air pressures.
   The issue with the Kvapil car was discovered by NASCAR during the lengthy rain delay, when his tires lost so much air they were flat.

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   Travis Kvapil pitting Sunday at Pocono (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

So 150 points for some

So 150 points for some improper valve stems? Mikey Waltrip got 50 points or so for putting gelatinized jet fuel in his carburetor. NASCAR and their penalties are egregiously biased.

These bleeders aren't very

These bleeders aren't very good if they just keep bleeding no matter how low the pressure goes.

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