Weekly NASCAR cheating report UPDATE In the latest NASCAR penalty head-scratcher, the six Nationwide Series teams who were found to have illegally modified their front upper bumper covers at Richmond all escaped without a serious penalty on Tuesday.
NASCAR said the crew chiefs and car chiefs from the three Richard Childress Racing cars – including points leader Elliott Sadler and third-place Austin Dillon – and three Turner Motorsports cars were placed on probation until the end of the season, and the crew chiefs were each fined $10,000.
But NASCAR did not take away any points or issue any suspensions, which is surprising since its actions at Richmond seemed to indicate such penalties were coming.
"We're good with everything," Sadler told SiriusXM's NASCAR channel. "We understand NASCAR's position. ... We're looking forward to moving on to Talladega."
After opening-day inspection at Richmond, NASCAR informed the teams they would have to cut off the front noses of each car and replace them with new ones. The reason? Each of the front upper bumper covers was illegally modified.
Body modifications can help give cars an aerodynamic advantage, which is why Jimmie Johnson's No. 48 team was nailed with a penalty for illegally altering its C-posts prior to the Daytona 500. SBNation.com04/27/12 Nationwide Series points leader Elliott Sadler is bracing for a points penalty that could be a big hurdle as he competes for the series championship.
Sadler, who entered Friday night’s race at Richmond International Raceway with a four-point lead on Ricky Stenhouse Jr., was surprised that the upper front bumper covers on his Richard Childress Racing car were confiscated by NASCAR Thursday.
All three RCR Chevrolets (driven by Sadler, Austin Dillon and Kevin Harvick) and all three of the Turner Motorsports Chevrolets (Kasey Kahne, Justin Allgaier and James Buescher) had their bumpers taken. Their teams were allowed to replace the bumpers for track activity Friday. Any penalties will be announced Tuesday.
“It’s the same car I ran twice already this year—it’s been through prerace inspections and it’s been through post race teardowns because we won both races with it,” Sadler said.
“When we went through tech line (Thursday), no issues, every single template fit the car, we got a sticker (that we passed inspection) and we were back working on the car at the trailer when NASCAR came and said we needed to cut the noses off our car. … I think it was an eye test. They didn’t like the visual part of it.”
The eye test is actually part of the NASCAR rulebook.
NASCAR Nationwide Series Director Joe Balash said NASCAR officials confiscated the bumpers through a process detailed in Rule 20A-3.10 that reads: “NASCAR Officials may use bumper covers provided by the respective manufacturer as a guide in determining whether a Competitor’s bumper cover conforms to the specifications of the NASCAR Rule Book. Unless otherwise authorized by the Series Director, cutting and reshaping of bumper covers will not be permitted.”
Balash said Friday that not all six bumpers had the same unapproved modifications.
One of the bumpers on display in the NASCAR hauler showed a ridged area near the wheel well on the manufacturer’s submitted piece to NASCAR. That area was flat on the bumper taken.
It could have been made flat by sanding or using Bondo.
“They have to be raced as submitted (by the manufacturer),” Balash said. “We’re always looking at stuff all over on the car. Different tracks, you do different things, you mix it up a little bit. The inspectors, this came to their view this weekend.”
Because this is the first body piece taken since the Nationwide Series began running its new car that debuted full time last season, it is unclear what type of penalties and suspensions there could be. But if NASCAR follows what it has done in the Sprint Cup Series, suspensions of crew chiefs and car chiefs of up to six weeks and 25-point penalties would not be unprecedented.
Sadler isn’t the only driver hoping to compete for the title. Dillon is third in the standings, 16 points behind Sadler, and Allgaier is tied for eighth in the standings, 84 points behind the leader.
“We were a little confused because this is the third time we’ve raced this car and we haven’t done anything other than but really wipe it down,” Sadler said. “I guess we’ll see what Tuesday brings us.
“We can’t do anything about it. NASCAR asked us to cut it off. We cut it off.”
Although both teams field Chevrolets, they hang their own chassis and don’t have any working relationships.
“We’re trying to constantly keep up with all these Cup teams,” said T.J. Puchyr, Turner Motorsports. “It’s important to us to maximize performance the best we can. … We’ll talk to them (at NASCAR) as they see fit.” Sporting News