Driver Matt Kenseth blasted the severe punishment he received Wednesday by NASCAR, explaining that the engine violations were a mistake and didn’t help his car’s performance in his win at Kansas Speedway.
“I think the penalties are grossly unfair,” Kenseth told reporters Thursday at Richmond International Raceway. “It’s borderline shameful.”
NASCAR inspectors at the sanctioning body’s research and development center found an unapproved connecting rod in the engine of the winning No. 20 Toyota car sponsored by Joe Gibbs Racing.
In sanctions issued Wednesday, Kenseth was docked of 50 points in the season-long points race for the Sprint Cup, lost his pole-position award at Kansas and bonus points for winning the STP 400 if he qualifies for the 10-race championship playoff at the end of the season.
Also, crew chief Jason Ratcliff was suspended for six races and fined $200,000 for the infraction. Gibbs was hit with a 50-point penalty in the owner standings; his license was also suspended for six weeks, leaving him ineligible to accrue owner points during that span. Gibbs plans to appeal.
Ratcliff also weighed in on Sirius/XM Radio. While he understood his responsibility for the penalty, he thought they were “quite surprising,” and “quite shocking” in their severity.
“I respect their stance on it, and they’ve got to have a go-to guy — and that go-to guy is the crew chief,” Jason Ratcliff told Sirius Wednesday night. “We raise our hand and say, ‘I’m responsible for this race car from the time we get to the racetrack to the time we get through post-race inspection.’ Now, the reality of it is … there’s no way one individual could put his finger on every part and piece.”
Ratcliff said he didn’t think the 50-point penalty would affect the team’s Chase chances, even though Kenseth fell out of the top 10.
“Fifty points is something I feel strongly we can overcome,” Ratcliff said. “I think we’ll continue to go out each week and be successful. In a few weeks, it’ll be a thing of the past and be right back where we belong.”