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Big penalties for Kenseth after engine fails inspection

Matt Kenseth's dream start to his 2013 with new team Joe Gibbs Racing looks like it has have come to screeching halt after his win at Kansas.
Just a few days ago, Joe Gibbs Racing driver Matt Kenseth was celebrating his second win since joining the team at the start of of the 2013 season after finding victory lane in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway.

But it's a different story mid-week, with news that Kenseth has been hit by big penalties, with NASCAR announcing on Wednesday that the driver would lose a massive 50 championship points which will drop him from eighth place in the Cup standings to 14th after a component of the car's Toyota race engine was found to be underweight.

As part of the penalty ruling, the #20 JGR car also loses the same number of owner points, and furthermore will not be allowed to earn owner points for the next six races as Joe Gibbs' owner's license for the vehicle has been suspended for the interim period.

Although Kenseth remains the nominal winner of Sunday's race, it won't count either toward a most-wins wildcard (should he fail to make the Chase by finishing the regular season in 26th place) nor would he gain the usual 3 point bonus for the Kansas victory that drivers get per win to start the play-offs with if he were to qualify.

Also hard hit is the crew chief of the #20, Jason Ratcliff, who has been served with a $200,000 fine and suspended from competition for the next six Sprint Cup events, which also includes the non-championship Sprint Cup All-Star race at Charlotte next month. Once he resumes his post he will be on NASCAR probation through to the end of 2013.

The team has indicated that it plans to exercise its right of appeal over the ruling and the size of the penalties being imposed.

"It is our understanding that one of the eight connecting rods on the engine was ruled too light," the team said in a brief statement after the NASCAR announcement. "We are working with our partners at [Toyota] on this issue. In the meantime we will plan to appeal the penalty."

The penalties came after the #20 was among the cars taken away by NASCAR at the end of the Kansas event for a more comprehensive stripdown at NASCAR's Research and Development Center in Concord, North Carolina than is possible in the usual pre- and post-race scrutineering checks at the race venue. While the selection of cars to take away is usually fairly random, the winning car is invariably among them.

The specific rule cited by NASCAR in their penalty ruling is Section 20-5.5.3E of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup rulebook, which states that “Only solid magnetic steel connecting rods with a minimum weight of 525 grams will be permitted," with the weight taken as including the connecting road cap and cap fasteners, but without the bearing inserts.




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Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, speaks with crew chief Jason Ratcliff during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series testing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 7, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo Credit: Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 The Home Depot/Husky Toyota, and Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Aflac Ford, lead the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 400 at Kansas Speedway on April 21, 2013 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Geoff Burke/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 The Home Depot/Husky Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 400 at Kansas Speedway on April 21, 2013 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 The Home Depot/Husky Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 400 at Kansas Speedway on April 21, 2013 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by John Harrelson/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 The Home Depot/Husky Toyota, leads a group of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 400 at Kansas Speedway on April 21, 2013 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS finished 1st, Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS finished 37th Saturday, April 12, 2014 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway in Darlington South Carolina. Harvick  is 22nd, Kahne is 23rd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Teammates Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet SS finished 2nd and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS finished 3rd.(Photo Credit: HHP/Christa L. Thomas for Chevrolet)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS celebrates his win Saturday, April 12, 2014 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway in Darlington South Carolina. Harvick is 22nd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Teammates Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet SS finished 2nd and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS finished 3rd. (Photo Credit: HHP/Tami Kelly-Pope for Chevrolet)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS celebrates his win Saturday, April 12, 2014 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway in Darlington South Carolina. Harvick is 22nd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Teammates Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet SS finished 2nd and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS finished 3rd. (Photo Credit: HHP/Christa L. Thomas for Chevrolet)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, races during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
The front right tire of the #27 CertainTeed/Menards Chevrolet, driven by Paul Menard, catches fire during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the #17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford tangle during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Cars race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, lead the field to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)

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nealio

April 24, 2013 6:40 PM

A buddy of mine thinks that these fines are NASCAR's way of making up revenue lost because of fewer fans in the stands. I say, keep handing out these huge fines and a lot of teams will be folding up their tents for sure. They sure seem to enjoy punishing their participants, might just be time to change their name to S&MCAR.



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