On June 2, 2009, the National Stock Car Racing Commission heard and considered the appeal of 3 penalties issued by NASCAR relative to the #146 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car ((pictured, thanks NASCAR Images)) following inspection of the car’s engine on May 16, 2009 for an event at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.
The penalties concern Section 12-1 of the NASCAR Rule Book “Actions detrimental to stock car racing”, Section 12-4-I “Any determination by NASCAR Officials that the Race Equipment used in the Event does not conform to NASCAR rules”, and Section 20-5.4A “Engine exceeded the maximum engine size of 358.00 cubic inch displacement.”
The penalties assessed were:
-A loss of 200 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Car Owner Points; suspension from the next 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Events; suspension from NASCAR until August 18, 2009; and probation until December 31, 2009 for owner, Danielle Long
-A loss of 200 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Driver Points; suspension from the next 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Events; suspension from NASCAR until August 18, 2009; and probation until December 31, 2009 for driver, Carl Long
-A $200,000 fine; suspension from the next 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Events; suspension from NASCAR until August 18, 2009; and probation until December 31, 2009 for crew chief, Charles Swing
The Appellants requested and were granted a deferral of the fine and suspension penalties until such time as this hearing could be convened.
The Appellants did not contest that the engine was oversized. They argued that the engine had been supplied by a third party and that the infraction may have been due to an error on the part of that supplier, or to expansion due to overheating, or to general wear and tear on the engine.
The Appellants further argued that they are a very low budget team incapable of bearing suspensions and a fine of this magnitude.
The NASCAR representative argued that NASCAR has and continues to consider an oversized engine to be one of the most egregious of rules violations, warranting the harshest of penalties. The last penalty notices issued in NASCAR’s top series for an oversized engine were in 1991 and included 12-race suspensions in the series and a sizeable fine for its day.
The Rule Book provides 8 cubic inches of flexibility in engine construction from a minimum of 350.000 cubic inch displacement to a maximum of 358.000 cubic inch displacement. Measurements on the engine in question calculated to a total cubic inch displacement of 358.197. According to the NASCAR representative, even the largest amongst the many, many engines inspected over the years usually allowed ample buffer below the 358.000 c.i.d. line.
The Commission reaffirms that the race team is ultimately responsible for all components on the race car, including any supplied by third-party vendors.
The Commission notes that during the hearing, the driver expressed a strong love of racing and a desire to compete at the highest levels of the sport. His testimony came across as genuine and heartfelt.
While it is tempting to consider penalties that this driver and team can more-readily bear, the sport would not be well served by having a sliding scale of penalties calibrated to a given team or member’s resources. Penalties of this magnitude for this type of infraction are warranted in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Upon reviewing all the testimony, the National Stock Car Racing Commission has decided to amend the penalties as follows:
-in each of the three Penalty Notices, the statement that reads “Suspended from NASCAR until August 18, 2009” shall be rescinded.
-all other elements of the penalties (points, suspensions from next 12 NSCS events, fine and probations) remain in force.
-the periods of suspension shall be adjusted from the date of this hearing.
The Appellants have the right under Section 15 of the Rule Book to appeal this decision to the National Stock Car Racing Commissioner.
George Silbermann, ChairmanThose of us at OSG HQ have really only one word for this: "Holycrap!!!"