NASCAR Cup Series
NASCAR levies huge penalty to Chase Briscoe, Stewart-Haas Racing
NASCAR Cup Series

NASCAR levies huge penalty to Chase Briscoe, Stewart-Haas Racing

Updated May. 31, 2023 7:20 p.m. ET

NASCAR hammered Stewart-Haas Racing with one of its biggest penalties ever — including a $250,000 fine and 120 regular-season points — after it says it found a counterfeit part in the underwing of the Chase Briscoe car that it took back to its research and development center following the race Monday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

NASCAR docked Briscoe and the team 120 regular-season points and 25 playoff points and also suspended crew chief John Klausmeier for six races. The fine also is issued to Klausmeier, although typically these fines are paid by the team.

Since the introduction of its Next Gen car in 2022 that requires teams to purchase most of the parts and pieces from a specific vendor, NASCAR has promised to issue severe penalties for modifying parts because the idea is that all drivers and teams have most of the same parts and pieces.

Briscoe finished 20th in the race Monday and his car was one of two taken by NASCAR for teardown at its research and development center. NASCAR routinely takes a couple of cars following races to inspect. The cars taken are determined by the series director, who can have a reason or no reason to take the car.


Stewart-Haas Racing chief competition officer Greg Zipadelli said the team mistakenly had the illegal part on the car for the event. 

"We had a quality control lapse and a part that never should’ve been on a car going to the racetrack ended up on the No. 14 car at Charlotte," Zipadelli said in a statement. 

"We accept NASCAR’s decision and will not appeal."

NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition Elton Sawyer indicated it wasn’t an unintentional mistake on the team’s part — that the counterfeit part was a duct that runs to the engine panel and was made to look like the supplied part all the way down to the lettering.

The piece the teams are supposed to use comes attached to the engine panel, Sawyer said. The duct is designed to cool areas of the car and directing air differently could enhance the performance of the car. NASCAR uses a template to check the inside of the duct and it did not meet the template. 

"Anything that you would do around that area would be some (performance) gain or they wouldn't have done it," Sawyer said. 

With the penalty, Briscoe falls from four points behind the current playoff cutoff to 124 points behind, creating a virtual must-win situation to make the playoffs. And even if he makes the playoffs, he likely will need to win in the playoffs to advance as the loss of 25 playoff points likely will put him in more must-win situations.

The violation was what NASCAR considers the most serious — a Level 3 on a 1-to-3 scale. 

"When you counterfeit a part, it falls into a bucket with engines and messing with tires and things like fuel that is just not going to be tolerated," Sawyer said. 

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass, and sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass.

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