Driver Matt Kenseth, team owner Joe Gibbs and crew chief Jason Ratcliff were hit with severe NASCAR penalties on Wednesday.
The penalties were the result of rules violations discovered during a post-race engine inspection at the Research and Development Center.
Kenseth’s race-winning car from last weekend’s race at Kansas Speedway was found to be in violation of the rule concerning weight of the connecting rod: “Only magnetic steel connecting rods with a minimum weight of 525.0 grams will be permitted; connecting rod failed to meet the minimum connecting rod weight) of the 2013 rule book.”
Kenseth and Gibbs each lost points and Ratcliff was suspended for six points races. Gibbs' owner's license for the team was also suspended for six points races. The team has said it will appeal.
Kenseth was penalized 50 championship points. In addition, his pole award from the Kansas race will not be counted as eligible for next season’s Sprint Unlimited and his bonus points for the win will not count if he makes the Chase for the Sprint Cup when the field is reseeded. In addition, his win will not count toward earning the wild-card spot for the race.
Crew chief Jason Ratcliff has been fined $200,000 and suspended from NASCAR until the completion of the next six Sprint Cup points races, a period that also covers the non-points Sprint All-Star Race.
Team owner Joe Gibbs has also lost 50 owners points and has had the owner’s license for the No. 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car suspended until the completion of the next six points events and the team is therefore being ineligible to receive championship car owner points during that period of time.
The sanctioning body also took five manufacturer points from Toyota.
The penalty dropped Kenseth from eighth to 14th in the standings, where he is now 109 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson.
The team immediately released a statement:
"Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) is aware of the penalty issued by NASCAR today regarding the engine in our No. 20 car used in last week’s Sprint Cup Series race in Kansas.
It is our understanding that one of the eight connecting rods on the engine was ruled too light.
We are working with our partners at TRD on this issue.
In the meantime we will plan to appeal the penalty."
Lee White, president of Toyota Racing Development, USA, issued the following statement:
"During NASCAR's routine post-race tear down of Matt Kenseth's race-winning car and engine from Kansas Speedway, one of our engine connecting rods weighed in approximately three grams under the legal minimum weight of 525 grams. None of the other seven connecting rods were found to be under the minimum weight. We take full responsibility for this issue with the engine used by the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) team this past Sunday in Kansas -- JGR is not involved in the process of selecting parts or assembling the Cup Series engines. It was a simple oversight on TRD's part and there was no intent to deceive, or to gain any type of competitive advantage. Toyota is a company that was built on integrity, and that remains one of the guiding principles of the company. The goal of TRD has always been -- and will continue to be -- to build high-performance engines that are reliable, durable and powerful, and within the guidelines established by NASCAR."