You know you have had a bad day when you dominate a race, win it, and wind up with three fewer points than the guy who crashed out first. That is the current fate of Matt Kenseth after “winning” at Kansas when NASCAR discovered a single connecting rod in his engine that weighed less than their minimum specifications. I don’t know exactly how much a rod weighing 2.7 grams lighter than the minimum pays an advantage, especially when you consider that the one next to it was about 4 grams heavier than the minimum.
Crew chief Jason Ratcliff received a $200,000 fine and is gone for the next seven weeks, including the all-star race. Car owner Joe Gibbs lost 50 car owner points, the victory counts for nothing except to pad Kenseth’s stats, and he is gone himself for seven weeks and won’t be eligible for any of the car owner points over that time. As for Kenseth, his 48 point pickup at Kansas becomes -2 (as in minus 2) and he gets no credit for the pole other than for statistical purposes. As for Toyota, they lose the five manufacturer points they got for the win.
The engine came from Toyota Racing Development, and they claim there was no intent, and I believe them. I also believe that when they say they are going to get to the bottom of what happened. I also believe that NASCAR does not care who did what to that engine, but they are making damn sure that power plants that do not measure up, each and every specific piece of them, are going to result in somebody paying some severe consequences.
Is it fair? Initially it seems rather an overkill reaction, but it did not help that Kenseth dominated things in Kansas with what he had. The engine may have arrived from the manufacturer, but Gibbs is the owner, the crew chief let the car go out, and Kenseth drove it and all benefited supposedly from the modification, if there was any benefit to be had.
To me, that is the crux of the matter. If there is a proven benefit, then Gibbs and crew pay the piper. If there was not, then this penalty is too harsh. However, NASCAR already has proof that one component did not measure up to its minimum specifications, and that is where the story will end.
Despite his own recent penalty, Brad Keselowski takes over as king of the hill amongst the hottest drivers, as Kyle Busch slips down two spots. Carl Edwards is hot, and we should mention how well Aric Almirola has been recently as he jumps up five spots to eighth.
Those experiencing a chill include Kenseth, who falls five, and Joey Logano. His Texas penalty combined with the Kansas disaster drop him six spots. Meanwhile, Tony Stewart tumbles right out of our Top Twenty as hot is something Smoke at present is definitely not.
|Dale Earnhardt, Jr.||320||7||5||0||3||6|
|Martin Truex, Jr.||244||18||21||0||2||4|