Appeals panel reduces NASCAR penalties against Joe Gibbs Racing

NASCAR team owner Joe Gibbs, left, talks with driver Matt Kenseth during qualifying for the Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway last month.
(Steve Helber / Associated Press)

An appeals board sided with Joe Gibbs Racing on Wednesday and substantially reduced penalties levied against the team for having an illegal part in Matt Kenseth’s engine when Kenseth won at Kansas Speedway last month.

Kenseth initially was stripped of 50 Sprint Cup Series championship points, but the three-member National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel reduced the penalty to 12 points.

That lifted Kenseth back up to fourth from 11th in the Sprint Cup title standings.

In addition, Kenseth crew chief Jason Ratcliff saw his suspension pared to one race from six, although a $200,000 fine against Ratcliff was left intact.


The panel also eliminated a six-race suspension for team owner Joe Gibbs related to Kenseth’s No. 20 Toyota.

“Glad to have today behind us so we can get our focus back on racing,” Kenseth said on Twitter. “I respect NASCAR and the appeals process. I feel like they got it right.”

In a routine inspection of Kenseth’s engine after he won the Kansas race April 21, NASCAR officials found that one of the eight rods connecting the pistons to the crankshaft was below the required weight.

Toyota Racing Development, which built the engine in Costa Mesa, took responsibility and said the rod was underweight by three grams and did not provide Kenseth with an advantage. As a result, Gibbs Racing argued the penalties were excessive.

“While we are disappointed by today’s outcome, we stand firmly behind our inspection process,” NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said in a statement.


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