Rusty Wallace fined for infraction

Feb. 14, 2003 at 6:07 PM
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Rusty Wallace's bid for his first Daytona 500 victory took a serious blow Friday when his race team was fined $10,000 he was pushed back in the field for Sunday's race because of a carburetor violation in Thursday's Twin 125 qualifying race.

"We have just finished a long and tedious process deciding what to do with the No. 2 car," said NASCAR's Jim Hunter. "It has been disqualified from the 125-mile qualifying race. Because he had a qualifying speed, he will still start the Daytona 500. But he is disqualified from his fourth-place finish in the qualifying race."

Wallace will start 38th in Sunday's race by using a provisional starting position from last year's Winston Cup team owner points.

"We have some very specific additional carburetor rules that we have applied to races at Daytona and Talladega and it's part of the restrictor-plate program," said NASCAR Winston Cup director John Darby. "The venturi area was much smaller than the required size of 1 9/16th inch. You can look at it in terms of horsepower, which may or may not be there. You can also see it affect the miles per gallon you get on the race track."

Wallace drives for Penske Racing, which this year has switched from Ford to Dodge. Wallace had high hopes of winning his first Daytona 500.

"Yesterday's races are truly just an extension of the qualifying process," Darby said. "In another race, it would have been the disqualification of the qualifying time. There were no points involved in yesterday's race."

Wallace said he understood the penalty, but emphasized the mistake was not intentional.

"I just hate it happened," he said. "NASCAR knows there was no intent on our part. We were 12 horsepower off the best car because of the carburetor. We just had one of the wrong carburetors on the truck.

"We didn't check it and we're paying for it now. Our engine guys feel real bad about it. We're going to start at the back of the field now, but I think we'll run every better with the right carburetor on the car.

"A rule is a rule. We're just embarrassed about the whole thing. (Owner) Roger Penske is embarrassed. It's our first race with Dodge and Miller is doing a big promotion. We're embarrassed for our sponsors.

"I'm proud how we ran in the race, based on what we found under the hood. It apparently was a test carburetor we had been using on our unrestricted stuff. It was just a dumb mistake. We weren't trying to pull anything off on anyone and that's why NASCAR penalized us the way they did."

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