Aust says team did not intentionally possess RFR part
Toyota officials on Wednesday identified the Roush Fenway Racing part that owner Jack Roush said was found in a Toyota team's possession during a Sprint Cup post-race teardown as a spring.
Jim Aust, the president and chief executive officer of Toyota Racing Development, said once the part was found to belong to RFR that it was returned. He was uncertain how the part, discovered on a table with other Toyota parts, got there or from which team it came.
"I don't understand the whole procedure when a teardown happens," said Aust, referring to a post-race process in which several cars are broken down by NASCAR inspectors. "The only thing I know is it wound up with parts we had and [which were] returned to Roush.
"It's unfortunate it happened the way it did. It wasn't anything intentional. There's no reason to be done intentional. I have no idea how it happened to begin with."
Roush Fenway president Geoff Smith said the part in question was not a spring, but he would not elaborate. No one at RFR has identified which Toyota team had the part.
"Jack is the only one to talk to at this time and he presently doesn't want to make any additional comments," Smith said.
The part became an issue after a quote from Roush three weeks ago at Atlanta Motor Speedway appeared in the March 7 issue of ESPN The Magazine.
"We had a proprietary Roush Fenway part go missing from one of my race teams and we recovered it from a Toyota team," Roush said in the article. "I'm not going to say which team it is, but we are considering legal action or getting NASCAR involved."
Robin Pemberton, the vice president of competition for the series, said NASCAR has not been approached by Roush and this is an issue that needs to be settled between the teams.
"Stuff like that happens all the time," Pemberton said, "some by accident, some on purpose. Those guys need to fix it themselves. We don't get in the middle of team squabbles.
"We'll listen to what they say, but at the end of the day they're responsible for how they behave in the garage."
Roush's accusation came on a weekend in which he was under fire for a violation found on Carl Edwards' winning car at Las Vegas. Edwards was docked 100 points and his crew chief suspended for six weeks because the oil reservoir lid was off, creating what NASCAR officials called an aerodynamic advantage.
Roush got into a war of words with Toyota general manager Lee White after White told USA Today that he believed the violation was not accidental.
Roush challenged White's integrity while working in his organization early in his career. He also alleged that Michael Waltrip's car wasn't the only Toyota that had "jet fuel" in it at the 2007 Daytona 500, although only Waltrip was cited by NASCAR.
White said he was looking into the allegation of a missing part and would refrain from comment until Friday at Martinsville, Va., site of this week's Sprint Cup race.
"The reality is Jack was madder than hell [at Atlanta]," White said. "He was upset there and maybe justifiably so. I only found out about the missing part [on Tuesday]. I am in no position to comment." espn.com