CHARLOTTE, NC — NASCAR on Wednesday handed down its second serious penalty in days, levying hefty fines on Stewart-Haas Racing over an alleged “counterfeit part” found on Chase Briscoe’s car during a second inspection after the Coca-Cola 600.
SHR’s No. 14 team was cut by 120 points in both the Owners’ and Drivers’ Championships by Briscoe, and was also stripped of 25 playoff points. John Klausmeier, the team boss, was suspended for six races and fined $250,000.
The penalties are the harshest NASCAR can impose under its written deterrent system. It comes a day after superstar Chase Elliott was suspended for a race Monday at Charlotte Motor Speedway for deliberately destroying Denny Hamlin.
“We’d much rather be talking about the phenomenal races we just had at Charlotte Motor Speedway than penalties,” said Elton Sawyer, NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition. “We are the keepers of the garage.”
The penalties imposed on SHR fall under rules prohibiting the counterfeiting of a vendor-supplied next-generation single-source part. SHR is accused of using an illegal part to create more downforce on Briscoe’s Ford.
“I was a little surprised they went that route,” Sawyer said of SHR’s blatant fraud. “Because they know the severity of the punishment. When we spoke to the race team, they have established some processes and procedures in their race shop that I think they need to improve.”
The violation was discovered during a random inspection at NASCAR’s Concord research and development center, a day after Briscoe finished 17th in Charlotte Monday night. NASCAR will randomly select two cars to bring back to their factory for a more thorough inspection, which is especially important for overseeing the new next-gen car.
The next-gen car is largely a custom car with one-stop parts. It was designed to reduce both cost and pitch. Sawyer said NASCAR will consider subjecting more than two randomly selected cars to a second inspection to ensure teams aren’t treating the car and its workshops as a “laboratory” for how to push the limits in the second year.
“Last year they just got the parts, prepped the cars, and brought them to the track,” Sawyer said. “Now they’ve had them for a season, so their engineers and their guys on the shop floor have a lot of time to think, ‘Okay, maybe we can do this? Maybe we can do it?’
“By taking these cars back to R&D and stripping them down to the smallest nut and bolt – and we will continue to do that – we will get our message across.”
The loss of points dropped Briscoe to 31st overall with twelve races to go in the regular season. The top 16 overall – or a rider with a win – will make up the 16-rider field for the playoffs.