CHARLOTTE, N.C. — NASCAR issued its second massive penalty in as many days by levying huge fines Wednesday against Stewart-Haas Racing for an alleged “counterfeit part” found on Chase Briscoe‘s car in a secondary inspection after the Coca-Cola 600.
SHR’s No. 14 team was docked 120 points in both the owner standings and Briscoe’s driver standings, and he also was stripped of 25 playoff points. John Klausmeier, the crew chief, is suspended six races and was fined $250,000.
The penalties are the harshest NASCAR can impose under its written deterrence system. It comes a day after superstar Chase Elliott was suspended one race for deliberately wrecking Denny Hamlin on Monday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“We would much rather be talking about the phenomenal racing we just had at Charlotte Motor Speedway than penalties,” said Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition. “We are the custodians of the garage.”
The penalties against SHR fall under rules that prohibit counterfeiting a Next Gen single-source vendor-supplied part. SHR is accused of using an illegal part in an attempt to create more downforce on Briscoe’s Ford.
“I was a little surprised they’d go down this path,” Sawyer said of SHR’s blatant cheating. “With them knowing the severity of the penalty. Talking with the race team, they’ve got some process and procedures within their race shop, that they feel they need to button up.”
The violation was found in a random inspection at NASCAR’s R&D Center in Concord the day after Briscoe finished 17th at Charlotte on Monday night. NASCAR randomly selects two cars to take back to its facility for a more thorough inspection, which is particularly important for policing the new Next Gen car.
The Next Gen car is mostly a spec car with single-source vendor parts. It was designed to both cut costs and even the playing field. Sawyer said NASCAR will consider taking more than two random cars to a secondary inspection to ensure teams are not treating the car and their shops as “a laboratory” for how they can push the limits in the second year.
“Last year they were just getting the parts and pieces, and getting the cars prepared and getting to the race track,” Sawyer said. “Now they’ve had them for a season and so it’s given a lot of time to their engineers, their people back at the shop to think ‘OK, maybe we can do this? Maybe we can do that?’
“By taking these cars back to the R&D and taking them down to basically the nuts and bolts — and we will continue to do that — we will get our message across.”
The points loss dropped Briscoe to 31st in the standings with 12 races remaining in the regular season. The top 16 in the standings — or a driver with a win — make the 16-driver field for the playoffs.