NASCAR issued an L3-level penalty, the most severe punishment under the sanctioning body’s deterrence system, to Stewart-Haas Racing after the discovery of a counterfeit part in the team’s No. 14 Ford.
As a result, the No. 14 team has been docked 120 points in both the owner standings and driver standings for Chase Briscoe; an additional loss of 25 playoff points should Briscoe and the team qualify for the postseason; and a $250,000 fine and suspension in the next six points races to crew chief John Klausmeier.
According to the penalty grid issued by NASCAR, the team violated multiple sections of the NASCAR Rule Book. That includes Section 14.1F, which prohibits counterfeiting a Next Gen single source vendor-supplied part, along with Section 14.6.A Underwing, and 14.6.3B Engine Panel Assembly.
The engine panel assembly rule specifically notes that the engine panel NACA duct must be used and must remain unobstructed.
NACA ducts are single-source supplied parts for the Next Gen car and may not be modified or counterfeited. The NASCAR Rule Book spells out the location for these ducts, on the left and right side windows, which are used to help cool the car.
Tightening the ducts, or counterfeiting/modifying the size of the ducts, can help a team create more downforce on the race car.
“In the post-race inspection at the R&D Center, we found the No. 14 car had an engine panel NACA duct not in compliance with the rule book,” NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition Elton Sawyer told NASCAR.com. “It is a counterfeit part, and that is an L3 penalty. … We need to make sure we’re keeping the teams and the car in compliance. The deterrence model has to fit that, and that’s our responsibility as custodians of the sport and of the garage.
“Don’t mess with a single-source part. Working in areas we used to in the Gen-6 car, is just not going to be acceptable with this car as we move forward. It’s not going to be the culture we’re going to allow.”
An L3-level penalty is reserved for the most intense of instances, including but not limited to:
– Counterfeiting or modifying Next Gen Single Source vendor supplied parts and/or assemblies.
– Engine infractions not meeting the rules.
– Engine performance enhancements
– Altering/modifying tires and/or fuel
– Violating the Vehicle Testing Policy
All penalties at the Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 areas spell out ranges of punishment in the NASCAR Rule Book for points, playoff points, suspensions and fines.
Those meted out to the No. 14 were the minimum for an L3-level violation as stipulated in the rule book.
Stewart-Haas Racing released the following statement after Wednesday’s penalty announcement: “We had a quality control lapse and a part that never should’ve been on a car going to the race track ended up on the No. 14 car at Charlotte. We accept NASCAR’s decision and will not appeal.”
The impact of Wednesday’s penalty will shake up NASCAR’s postseason picture considerably.
Briscoe was the first driver out of the field following Monday’s Coca-Cola 600, just four points behind Alex Bowman on the bubble.
The loss in points drops Briscoe from 292 points to 172, placing him 31st in the standings and facing a postseason path that almost surely must include a win over the final 12 races in the regular season.
Joe Gibbs Racing rookie Ty Gibbs (-15) now slides up to the last spot out, followed by Trackhouse Racing’s Daniel Suárez (-20), Spire Motorsports’ Corey LaJoie (-38) and Team Penske’s Austin Cindric (-42).