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Kyle Busch loses points, crew chief fined
13 June 2011
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.
He said that it was a "huge surprise", describing how "My boy is here, and I walked him through tech to show him the process—smiling, happy with a third-place finish" before getting the nasty shock.
Joe Gibbs Racing subsequently released a statement indicating it would not appeal, saying: "We brought the #18 car back to our race shop and have identified the problem which caused us to measure low during the post-race inspection process in Pocono yesterday afternoon. We have made NASCAR aware of our findings and we accept the penalty they have issued today.
"The situation was caused when the left front spring became dislodged,” the team stated. “This resulted in the left front corner of the car to be lower and resulted in a change to the car's handling, which had to be compensated for during the race. Consequently, the car measured low during post-race inspection."
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