“Grossly unfair.” “Borderline shameful.”
NASCAR penalties handed down so far in the still-young NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season have caught the ire of a few drivers, Matt Kenseth included. As a matter-of-fact, the aforementioned quotes were uttered by Kenseth during a press conference on Thursday at Richmond (Va.) International Speedway in response to a question regarding his opinion of the penalties NASCAR handed down to his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team after the engine in his car failed inspection following last weekends race at Kansas Speedway — a race for which Kenseth won the pole, dominated and won.
Kenseth wasn’t so upset about the penalties imposed on himself — mostly points-related. What he really seemed to take offense to, among other things, was the suspension of car owner Joe Gibbs’ owner’s credential for the No. 20 for the next six races. As a result of that suspension, the No. 20 team won’t receive owner’s points for the next six races, almost certainly taking the team out of contention for an owner’s title.
The penalties are especially steep when you consider that they came as a result of a connecting rod issue in an engine the team didn’t build or even look at, for that matter, according to Kenseth.
JGR’s engines are built by Toyota Racing Develop, not Joe Gibbs Racing, and according to Kenseth, the team doesn’t even look at the motor before bolting it into the car. TRD did release a statement, accepting responsibility, soon after NASCAR’s penalty announcements.
Acceptance of responsibility or not, JGR’s No. 20 team is still going to pay the price, that is, if it doesn’t win an appeal on the matter. And more often than not, NASCAR wins out in that battle.
NASCAR has, obviously, cracked down when it comes to doling out punishment. The sanctioning body has been previously criticized for handing down penalties that don’t equate to much more than slaps on the wrist. I guess the sanctioning body is finally taking those critiques seriously. But did it go to far in this case?
Joe Gibbs Racing may want to start looking at what it’s putting under the hood from now on.
Here’s a video of Matt Kenseth giving his take on the penalty:
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