In all probability, the infraction uncovered by NASCAR wouldn't have given the #20 any significant edge in competition last weekend.
"There was certainly no performance advantage if you can find any unbiased, reputable, knowledgeable engine builder and they saw the facts," insisted Kenseth. "There was no performance advantage. There was no intent. It was a mistake."
“It's pretty obvious that when you look at Matt's issue, the pieces and the parts were not that influential to the performance, and probably didn't win him the race,” agreed reigning Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski, whose own Penske Racing team is currently appealing heavy penalties for a technical infraction at Texas, the week before Kansas.
“I think anyone could probably say that," added Keselowski. "But then again, from NASCAR's side, they know that if you give an inch, you've got to give a mile ... It's just a question of whether the penalty fits the crime."
For its part, Toyota Racing Development has accepted full responsibility for the engine not passing a post-race stripdown following Kenseth's win at Kansas last Sunday, after an underweight third-party component ended up being used.
“Totally our fault," admitted TRD President Lee White. "We've never, ever, never, not once, discussed going under the minimum weight on con rods. There is no reason to. This is an accidental occurrence.
"When you're an engine builder and you're not getting 100 per cent engine durability, you're letting your partners down," he added. "It is my job to make sure we have all the parts and pieces and the budget in place to make sure that incidents like this never happen."
TRD vice president David Wilson explained the details of how the problem had come about, when interviewed by the media midweek: "A connecting rod was manufactured under tolerance [by a third-party vendor] and shipped to us, which it should never have been, and we didn't do a thorough enough job in checking the paperwork. We don't do a 100 per cent inspection on every single part."
Wilson told USA Today
that the part failed to meet the 525 grams minimum specification by the weight of three paperclips.
"There's absolutely zero opportunity for an advantage by lightening one connecting rod. If you're lightening rods, you're going to lighten all of them because you need the engine in balance," he added. "If we're going to attempt to deceive or cheat by building a lighter engine, you're not going to do it with one connecting rod and not with a rod 2.3 grams out of tolerance.
"We don't play those games, and Joe Gibbs doesn't play those games," he added.