Thursday, April 25, 2013

Kenseth Calls Penalties "Grossly Unfair"

It takes a lot to make Matt Kenseth angry. 

The former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion is even-keeled by nature, with the experience and tenure to see the big picture in virtually every circumstance. The penalties handed down to Kenseth and his Joe Gibbs Racing team yesterday, however, are the exception to that rule. 

"I think the penalties are grossly unfair," said Kenseth Thursday at Richmond International Raceway. "I think it's borderline shameful.” Kenseth stated – correctly -- that his JGR Toyota team "had no control” over the weight of the connecting rods in their engine, built by Toyota Racing Development. "There's no argument the part was wrong,” he said. “They weighed it and it was wrong.  However, there is an argument that there certainly was no performance advantage.
"You can find any unbiased, reputable, knowledgeable engine builder, and if they saw the facts -- what all the rods weighed -- the average weight of all the rods was well above the minimum. There was (even) one in there that was way heavy.

"There was no performance advantage, there was no intent, it was a mistake." 

He said the penalties assessed by NASCAR -- a $200,000 fine, six-race suspension and probation until Dec. 31 for crew chief Jason Ratcliff; 50 driver and owner-point penalties for himself and team owner Joe Gibbs and invalidation of the team’s Kansas pole win, among other sanctions – were excessive. 

"To crush Joe Gibbs like that (and) to say they can't win an owner's championship with the team this year, I can't wrap my arms around that,” he said. “It just blows me away. The same with Jason Ratcliff. I don't feel bad for myself at all, but for Jason and Joe, I just couldn't feel any worse.

"There are no more reputable, honest, hard-working guys with good reputations than those two,” said Kenseth. “I feel really bad for them.
 I don't argue (that) there was a scale, and it says it has to weigh 225 grams. And if it weighs 224.99, it's illegal. I don't think any of us have any argument about that.

"I just think the penalty is way over the top.”

"I understand a lot of NASCAR's points,” he admitted. “I think they do a really good job of trying to police the garage. I understand (it’s) internal parts of the engine that you can't tech that all the time, and they need to make (the penalties) big, so people aren't messing with that. The part in there was wrong and somebody needs to pay for that. Everybody in the garage needs to understand (that) you can't get away with that mistake. It's still wrong, and I understand all that. But this was no performance advantage.
“That was a mistake, a very bad mistake, a very dumb mistake."


  1. Robert G.8:19 PM

    Two comments:
    1) Unfortunately, you can't hide behind saying that someone else built the part. Otherwise, you could have them build an engine that wasn't allowed but say not my fault.
    2) That being said, it does seem pretty harsh. Not sure how being 2+ grams under gives an advantage. But the Moody rule is: Then how far under are you allowed? Maybe it doesn't matter. Yes being under is lighter weight, but at some point I take off too much and that leads to part failures. Maybe let them go as far as they want. Maybe it should come down to displacement?

  2. The other guys' penalties are always justified. Our penalties are always unfair. Fine the all and let Middlebrook sort them out!

  3. Anonymous9:17 AM

    2 grams, 5 pounds, 1/2 inch, wrong fuel, frame material thickness, doesn't matter. You're illegal, here's the sentence. Your job is to either not get caught or be by the book.

    Always the same thing,: not's this guy fault, no the engine builder, no the parts manufacturer//supplier. You are asking me to believe that a 75,000$ racing engine is being put together WITHOUT having all rotating assembly parts weighted and balanced??? Who are you trying to kid??? Or the work quality at that shop is lower than the minimum standard.

    They got caught with something illegal, that the price to pay. There no need for crying over that.

  4. Dipship9:28 AM

    Not a JGR or a Toyota fan at all, Really like Matt though. With that stated, NASCAR has got to rethink the way they hand out certian penalties. Something thats done at a teams shop etc... yes fine the crap out of them. But when TRD supplies JGR the engine and then fine JGR for what they had zero involvement in ?? I understand the deterrent part, so this stuff does'nt happen, fine TRD a couple of million $$ for it, make the actual perp pay! Its like punishing the homeowner instead of the burglar!

  5. Dipship10:19 AM

    Here's crazy thought, Let's say TRD has had it with "X" ( insert any TRD NASCAR team ) team, Toyota wants no more to do with team "X". What's to stop TRD from "tweaking" an engine here or there, now and then, making sure that team "X" gets those "tweaked" engines and basically putting team X out of business. NASCAR won't dare fine Toyota.... they, NASCAR, just keep fining team X... team X goes bankrupt! Now I know its sounds crazy and way out there.... but stop and read the business headlines we've seen over the past several years...Heck look at what our own elected officials do.... To me, not so far fetched of a theory! NASCAR, you need to examine your penalty process.

    1. What's to stop them is that they are in NASCAR as an advertising front. They are in it so the world can see the quality of the product they put on the track and tranlate that to the quality of the product they put on the road. If they were to sabotage a team as you indicate, it would (1) become very obvious very quickly, (2) significantly impair if not destroy their ability to get a contract with any other NASCAR team and probably violate existing contracts and (3) damage the public perception of the quality of Toyota vehicles. In short, the financial and intangible cost to Toyota would be way to great. Besides, as a manufacturer, much like a sponsor, you have means of exerting your influence that don't reflect badly on you.

    2. Dipship3:32 PM

      Tony, I was simply pointing out the absurdity of this penalty by being absurd. NASCAR should have fined the actual violator not the end user of the product!
      The old saying.... "Don't blame the messenger for the message"

    3. Anonymous2:17 AM

      With penalties this severe, and Na$car demanding that nothing should be messed with on those cars....(especially engines, tires, blah blah)as a fan, I can't help but want to demand every engine from all contenders stripped down after each race...they did say it was black and white issue...didnt they...then prove it. That would get them to reevaluate their rulebook. However, it's their game as theyr'e fond of telling us...and if the teams don't like it...don't play. As a fan...I'll take their advice to heart.

  6. Anonymous10:48 AM

    Once again NASCAR has gotten out of hand with fines and penalties for violations of rules. Clearly there was no intention by anyone of the Joe Gibbs teams to violate any rules. Now I don't dispute that the rules were broken and some penalties must be enforced but to basically take a team out of contention when it is so clear they had no intent to violate the rules is just flat out wrong. Fine the Joe Gibbs team some cash if they want to but to take away drivers points, owners points and suspend team members? That's ridiculas at best. If NASCAR is going to do that, why didn't they fine and suspend the Godfather as well? He had as much to do with the rules violations as any member of the team.

  7. Anonymous1:00 PM

    Those who claim 'cheating is cheating' have done the dirty work for NASCAR. JGR wasn't cheating, anyone who thinks that is simply off the end of the scale. Suppose you went to work and they said you were a thief because a paper clip fell in your shit pocket when you were carrying papers from one office to another, and fired you for it does that make you a thief? Or does that make you the victim of a mistake?

    get real folks, there's something else going on here, and to claim JGR is cheating is not only unfair, it's dumb.

  8. Anonymous8:25 PM

    JGR made the decision to use TRD engines. When he made that decision he accepted responsibility for the quality and build of the engines. It is JGR's responsibility. JGR needs to take the fines and penalties and deal with TRD on their side.

    I do agree with the post above about the quality of the engines built by TRD. How do these connecting rods get through quality with such great weight differences. As Matt Kenseth said, one rod was acctually quite heavier than the rest as well. With all that said, it was still a fast car.

  9. Anonymous11:54 PM

    If this was a "Hendrick Engine" we wouldn't be having this discussion. If the penalties weren't given to the teams the playing field wouldn't be equal/fair. Teams that rent engines get a pass and those who build their own wouldn't? Not penalizing teams with rented engines would just force someone like Hendrick to create an "engine building company" seprate from his race team. This shell game would them give him the same insulation from penalty afforded Gibbs, Waltrip, etc. if the teams themseleves aren't penalized. The engine is in the teams car so they are responsible. It may seem unfair now but I bet this won't happen again.