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NASCAR defends penalties levied against Kenseth


April 27. 2013 12:12AM


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RICHMOND, Va. — Joe Gibbs understands that NASCAR must enforce the rule book and his team deserved a penalty for an illegal part in Matt Kenseth’s engine.


The team owner just disagrees with the severity of the penalties levied against Joe Gibbs Racing this week.


More importantly, he’s deeply troubled with the perception JGR cheated.


“You spend your life trying to live a certain way. That’s a real personal thing and is something that has a big effect on me,” said Gibbs, who added that when someone wrongs him, he always searches for intent.


“The first thing I wanted to know was: ‘What was their intent?’” Gibbs said Friday. “Was it an accident, was it a mistake or did they purposefully try to do something? That’s important to me. This motor and what happened, there was not an attempt to circumvent the rules or have an unfair competitive advantage.”


JGR made a strong statement that the organization is weathering this storm in Friday qualifying at Richmond International Raceway, where Kenseth won the pole. Brian Vickers was second to make it an all-JGR front row for Saturday night’s race.


The pole-winning run negates at least one portion of the penalty levied against Kenseth on Wednesday, when NASCAR said the pole he won last week at Kansas would not count toward eligibility for next year’s preseason race at Daytona.


It was part of a harsh penalty levied by NASCAR, which maintained it’s not its responsibility to determine intent or if the infraction provided an advantage when doling out punishment.


“Everybody’s asked the same thing — why aren’t things more black and white?” NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said. “It’s too light. It’s too heavy. It’s too wide. It’s too high. It’s too low. It’s black and white, and we can’t judge the performance because some guys do a better job of it than others, quite frankly.”


The issue is not whether the part was illegal, because JGR admits one of eight connecting rods failed to meet the minimum weight requirement. But the engine came from manufacturer Toyota Racing Development, and JGR is questioning the fairness in NASCAR’s harsh ruling against the team.


The reasoning, Pemberton said Friday, is two-fold.


“When you talk about engines, you talk about tires, and you talk about fuel, that’s a common thread that’s been understood, and it’s stood the test of time for the last 65 years: Don’t mess with those areas, and the penalties are severe,” Pemberton said.


But NASCAR also holds the team ultimately responsible for every piece of the car presented at inspection.


“At this time we will not and cannot penalize vendors,” Pemberton said. “We’d be at it all day long, whether it was a shock that went bad, a spring that collapsed that caused the car (to be) low or any of those things.


“But when you go down that road, there are a million pieces on these cars, and so we choose to go down the path that it’s the team’s responsibility for quality control, to check on the parts and pieces that they bring and compete with at the racetrack.”


Per NASCAR policy, Kenseth’s race-winning engine from Sunday at Kansas was taken back to the North Carolina Research & Development Center for a thorough inspection.




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