Appeals panel reduces Kenseth penalties

May 8, 2013 at 9:20 PM
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CONCORD, N.C., May 8 (UPI) -- An appeals panel dramatically reduced the penalties assessed last month to Joe Gibbs Racing and driver Matt Kenseth following Kenseth's victory in Kansas.

The penalties had dealt a major blow to Kenseth's Sprint Cup series championship hopes and the three-man panel ultimately decided the punishment had been far too harsh for the infraction that occurred.

After Kenseth won the Sprint Cup race, it was found that one of the eight connecting rods on the car's engine was three grams under the legal minimum weight of 525 grams. The engine supplier took the blame for the mistake and said no member of the team could have known of the slight discrepancy.

For that, Kenseth and team owner Joe Gibbs were penalized 50 points and all the benefits of the race win were wiped out.

In addition, crew chief Jason Ratcliff was suspended for six races.

The panel decided that Kenseth and Gibbs will now be penalized only 12 points and that Ratcliff will be suspended for just one race. The race victory will now count toward the eligibility for a wild card position in the chase for the championship and the pole win prior to that race will count in the bonus points as well.

The appeals panel was made up of Dover International Speedway president and CEO Dennis McGlynn, Stafford Speedway general manager Mark Arute and former motorsports team owner Jack Housby.

"I think all of us are glad to get the process over with, so we can get back to racing and get focused again," Gibbs said.

NASCAR officials were not pleased with the ruling.

"While we are disappointed in today's outcome, we stand firmly behind our inspection process," NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said. "The inspection of engines and engine parts and pieces has always been regarded as the holy grail throughout the industry, that alone with fuel and tires.

"And in violations such as these, we have no other recourse in the reinforcement process than to penalize the team owner and team members. That's how our system works. And the responsibility of such infractions fall on their shoulders. Our intensity and approach to inspecting engines will not change."

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