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NASCAR Suspends Seven JGR Team Members

Following the Nationwide series’ Carfax 250 from Michigan International Raceway, NASCAR put 10 cars on the chassis dyno to check horsepower [1].

After confiscating nine Nationwide cars [2] earlier in the season and checking their horsepower, NASCAR discovered that some Toyotas had as much as three percent more horsepower than the other makes.

As a result, NASCAR issued a technical bulletin [3] that amended section 20A — 5.10.4 as follows:

At all Events, unless otherwise specified, all engines with a cylinder bore spacing less than 4.470 inches must compete using a tapered spacer with four (4) 1.125-inch diameter holes. At all Events, unless otherwise specified, all engines with a cylinder bore spacing of 4.470 inches or more must compete using a tapered spacer with four (4) 1.100-inch diameter holes. Unless otherwise authorized, the carburetor restrictor will be issued by NASCAR.

After the Carfax 250, NASCAR found that Joe Gibbs Racing manipulated the throttle of its Toyotas so the tests would not be accurate.

NASCAR’s VP of competition, Robin Pemberton said:

In our post-race inspection, our inspectors discovered some shims that were placed on the gas-pedal stop. They were magnets that were about a quarter-inch thick that prevented the accelerator from going 100 percent wide open.

Today, NASCAR announced that seven JGR team members are suspended indefinitely — including crew chiefs Dave Rogers, of the No. 20, and Jason Ratcliff, of the No. 18.

Additional penalties are as follows:

ESPN [4] adds that JGR would not appeal the penalties and indicated it would also fine the crew members involved and suspend them through the end of the season. Joe Gibbs also made it clear that he had no knowledge of the cheating attempt.

The AP [5] quotes Ratcliff as saying in response to the ammouncement:

I would like to apologize to the employees and partners of Joe Gibbs Racing. Because of poor decision making, I have failed you as the leader of this team and I am solely responsible for this situation. Secondly, I apologize to the men and women of NASCAR for my dishonesty and interference during a testing event.

Rogers said:

I accept the penalties imposed by NASCAR and Joe Gibbs Racing and make no excuses.

Racing One carried Toyota’s statement which said:

Toyota respects NASCAR’s rules and regulations and accepts the sanctions that were imposed against Joe Gibbs Racing. It is NASCAR’s responsibility to enforce their rules and we respect their decisions. Toyota always has, and will continue to, abide by all NASCAR-mandated policies.

Toyota also commended JGR for the way it handled the situation and quickly owned up to the penalties.

Also of note, NASCAR fined Donnie Wingo, crew chief of Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 41 Sprint Cup entry, driven by Reed Sorenson, $25,000 after the car was found to have an improperly attached weight in Sunday’s 3M Performance 400 race at Michigan.

SceneDaily [6], the Charlotte Observer [7], and the Sporting News [8] also covered the story.