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Edwards punished for rules violation

Times Staff Writer

Another cheating scandal rocked stock-car racing Wednesday as NASCAR levied one of its toughest penalties yet against driver Carl Edwards and his team for using a doctored car when he won Sunday’s race in Las Vegas.

Edwards was allowed to keep the victory in the UAW-Dodge 400 -- his second consecutive win in NASCAR’s top-tier Sprint Cup Series -- but he was stripped of 100 championship points. That dropped Edwards from leading the season’s early point standings to seventh, and lifted Kyle Busch into the top spot.

If Edwards qualifies for NASCAR’s Chase for the Cup late-season title playoff, he also would lose the 10 bonus points awarded to drivers for each race they won earlier in the season. His crew chief, Bob Osborne, was suspended for the next six races, fined $100,000 and put on probation until Dec. 31.

Edwards drives the No. 99 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing, and team co-owner Jack Roush also was penalized 100 owner points. Roush Fenway spokeswoman Joyce Caron-Mercier said Edwards and the others had no immediate comment, but that the team planned to respond today. Teams can appeal the penalties.

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After Edwards won at Las Vegas, which followed his victory a week earlier at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, NASCAR officials, during a post-race inspection, found the lid was missing on his oil tank, which sits behind the driver.

NASCAR said that broke its rules against tampering with anything that changes how air moves in and out of a car which, at speeds of nearly 200 mph, can provide an aerodynamic advantage. NASCAR declined to elaborate.

It’s the latest episode in the long history of NASCAR teams breaking the rules.

Last year, Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon were each docked 100 points, and their crew chiefs were suspended for six races, after inspectors found their cars had oversized fenders before the race in Sonoma. Dale Earnhardt Jr., the sport’s most popular driver, also was docked 100 points last season when his Chevy was found with an unauthorized rear-wing assembly at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.

Despite the setback, Johnson went on to win the championship, with Gordon second.

There have been only three races in the Cup series’ 36-race schedule, but Edwards’ penalty could have an impact by season’s end. Johnson won the title last year by only 77 points.

Separately, the National Stock Car Racing Commission, which hears appeals of rules infractions, overturned a 100-point penalty issued against owner-driver Robby Gordon of Orange before the season-opening Daytona 500. Gordon arrived with an unapproved nose on his Dodge. But Gordon, who had just switched to Dodge from Ford, claimed the wrong part inadvertently came from the manufacturer.

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james.peltz@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Standings

Kyle Busch takes over first place in the revised NASCAR Spring Cup Series standings:

*--* Rk Driver Pts Behind 1. Kyle Busch 470 -- 2. Ryan Newman 450 20 3. Kasey Kahne 444 26 4. Kevin Harvick 428 42 5. Greg Biffle 427 43 6. Jeff Burton 421 49 7. Carl Edwards 391 79 8. Martin Truex Jr. 371 99 9. Elliott Sadler 368 102 10. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 361 109 11. Tony Stewart 355 115 12. Kurt Busch 348 122 *--*

Source: NASCAR.com


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