Kyle Busch has lost six Sprint Cup championship points after his #18 car failed technical inspection after the 5-Hour Energy 500 at Pocono Raceway on Sunday afternoon.
The car's owner, Joe Gibbs Racing, also loses six championship owner points, while the #18's crew chief has been fined $25,000 for the rule infraction.
Kyle Busch had escaped early on-track harassment by Richard Childress Racing driver Kevin Harvick to finish in third place at Pocono on Sunday, only to fall foul of the post-race technical inspection that found that the #18 had a height issue on the left-front which was 1/16th of an inch lower than allowed. The car was removed to the NASCAR R&D Center for further investigation before the penalty was announced on Monday.
Previous infringements for cars have seen even greater points deducted and crew members suspended for lengthy periods as a result if intentional wrong-doing is suspected, so the penalties are relatively minor in comparison and suggest that NASCAR believe it to be an accidental matter - but nonetheless a rule violation.
The six point deduction - the equivalent of a loss of six places in a race under the new points system - doesn't do much harm to Busch's Cup season, reducing him from 467pts to 461pts but still in fifth place ahead of his brother Kurt. The Pocono race result is unaffected by the infringement.
The specific rule violated was section 12-1 of the 2011 NASCAR rule book pertaining to actions detrimental to stock car racing, specifically sub-sections 12-4-J regarding "any determination by NASCAR officials that race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules" and sub-section 20-12.8.1B covering "body height requirements - car failed to meet the minimum front car heights".
"It's disappointing," Busch's pit chief Dave Rogers said on Sunday evening. "I can't tell you a whole lot right now. ... I don't have any excuses for you. We're going to go back to the shop and try to figure it out."
He speculated that race damage might be to blame. "There is a lot of damage if you look at the left-front fender. You can see we bottomed out," said Rogers. "We got into the fence on the right side a little bit. There is plenty of damage, but nothing that I could look at and say, 'Hey, NASCAR, here's a problem.'
“I didn't present anything to tech that hasn't been through tech before — several times. These days, bump stops control your attitude. Every car out there is sitting on bump stops, so you don't expect to go through tech too low," said Rogers.