Thursday, May 29, 2008

NASCAR rules against Haas CNC Sprint Cup teams after confiscation of cars

The penalties were brought against Haas CNC team carries the subtle feeling of a wet towel whipping. Not only were the #66 and #70 car publicly removed from the garage on exposed flatbed trucks last weekend, the real punishment sentenced late Wednesday night are some of the most severe hits for an already embattled race team.

NASCAR issued a 150 point loss for each car in the Sprint Cup owner's points, Haas CNC drivers Scott Riggs and Johnny Sauter are also hit with 150 point penalties. This deeply effects the #66 Chevrolet which was sitting comfortably inside the coveted top-35 points spot after the Coca-Cola 600. Having resided in 26th position, the points adjustment now alarmingly places Scott Rigg's #66 car on the 34th position. Concerning the costliness of 150 points to the driver's yearly tally, this hits Johnny Sauter especially hard as he only ran three races this season on a race-to-race basis for Haas CNC. Additionally, Crew Chief of both car Bootie Barker and Derick Jennings have now been suspended by NASCAR for six races along with being fined $100,000 a piece. The #66 and #70 car chiefs are also serving six-race sentenced away from their race teams as a result to their suspected involvement.

In a similar incident last year, Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s #8 Budweiser Chevy was caught with unapproved wing mounts at Darlington. While the current spec COT race car was even deeper in infancy, the #8 Chevy of Dale Earnhardt Jr. received a hammering with a $100,000 fine and 100 point deduction in driver and car owner points (at the end of the 2007 season, that amounted a two point position loss in 16th rather than 14th). The crew chief punishment was equal with Tony Eury Jr. serving a six-race suspension. Ironically, this incident had #66 crew chief Bootie Barker making a similar defense as Eury's by stating that the wing mountings had previously passed NASCAR inspection.

Along with the loss of money and points, NASCAR has also confiscated the two offending race cars.

While the team would have succomed hard to the deep embarrassment of seeing their cars being openly carried away by NASCAR, this is by no means a case of the stock car racing sanctioning body singling out one team. This follows a long history of NASCAR inspectors, making non-conforming cars and components their own trophies in a game to catch those they believe are more blatantly bending their rules. The staging was more a message to any other team tempting past the razor edge of the NASCAR Rulebook. However, with near record-setting fines being levied against teams, the hurt for a NASCAR Sprint Cup race team runs deeper.

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