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Kenseth lashes out at 'grossly unfair' penalty

Matt Kenseth has hit out over the "grossly unfair" penalties that NASCAR has levied on Joe Gibbs Racing for an under-spec component in the Toyota engines.
Matt Kenseth didn't hold back when asked what he felt about the penalties that NASCAR imposed on his Joe Gibbs Racing team mid-week, after a single one of eight connecting rods in the #20 car's Toyota engine was found to be too light.

“The penalties are grossly unfair,” Kenseth said on Thursday during a scheduled media availability at Richmond International Raceway ahead of this weekend's Sprint Cup race. “It's borderline shameful."

Kenseth has lost 50 points in the Sprint Cup championship, and the #20 car has also been stripped of the same amount of owner points. Joe Gibbs himself has been told his owner licence for the #20 has been suspended for the next six Cup events meaning it will earn no more points in the interim, while the crew chief Jason Ratcliff has been handed a six-race suspension and a $200,000 fine despite having no direct control or responsibility for, as the engine is supplied ready-assembled by Toyota Racing Development.

"All the engine work is done in Costa Mesa, California,” Kenseth explained. “JGR does have a Nationwide engine shop but they do not work on or even look at any Cup engines ... They show up on a truck or an airplane, get taken out and get bolted in the car.

"JGR had no control over that. To crush Joe Gibbs like that and say they can't win an owners championship with the #20 this year, I just can't wrap my arms around that," he said. "It just blows me away. The same with Jason Ratcliff. I don't feel bad for myself at all. But for Jason and Joe, I couldn't feel any worse.

"You're going to have people that know absolutely nothing about the whole situation and call you 'cheaters," he fumed. "There's no more reputable, honest, hard-working guys with good reputations more so than them two. I feel really bad for them."

"We raise our hand and say, 'I'm responsible for this race car from the time we get to the racetrack to the time we get through post-race inspection,'" Ratcliff himself told Sirius/XM Radio on Wednesday. "[But] the reality of it is ... there's no way one individual could put his finger on every part and piece."

However, Ratcliff was convinced that given Kenseth's form so far since the driver joined JGR at the start of 2013, the heavy penalties did not mean the end of their championship hopes: "Fifty points is something I feel strongly we can overcome," he said. "I think we'll continue to go out each week and be successful. In a few weeks, it'll be a thing of the past and be right back where we belong."

"I think if anybody can come back from it and get us in a spot to have a shot at winning a championship, it's my group," agreed Kenseth. "Honestly, I feel like I have the strongest race team in the garage."




Related Pictures

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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)
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, 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 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)
JGR president JD Gibbs during the pre-season media tour. January 24, 2013. Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images for NASCAR
JD Gibbs and Joe Gibbs during the pre-season media tour. January 24, 2013. Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images for NASCAR
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Wurth Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane with girlfriend Paige White after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 22, 2015 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 DeWalt Toyota, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 22, 2015 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 Sport Clips Toyota, leads Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 DeWalt Toyota, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 22, 2015 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Doug Pensinger/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS finishes in third place and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS finishes in second place Sunday, March 22, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
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Joe - Unregistered

April 26, 2013 2:03 PM

Good Grief NASCAR.. Use some common sense!!!.. yes the One Con Rod was under the limit.. but shake your head.. It would not have given them the slightest advantage, in fact it could have caused a breakdown, due to engine imbalance.. Yes Laws are Laws, but that is why we have judges, to use some Common Sense..Something that is sadly lacking in this case..

Banditfan

April 26, 2013 4:33 PM

Joe, I agree completely. As you point out the difference of a couple of grams on one rod could only hurt not help an engine. A simple fine would have been adequate in this case. NASCAR's response of a six race owner license suspension is out of all proportion to the violation.



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