On Wednesday, August 22, 2012, NASCAR announced that two teams had received penalties after the most recent Sprint Cup race. After the Pure Michigan 400, held at Michigan International Speedway, both Kyle Busch's team and Paul Menard's team received penalties. Busch did not lose any points, but his crew chief was fined and placed on probation. Menard, on the other hand, lost team members to suspension, lost points and one of his team members received a hefty fine.
Busch's team was penalized for not attaching a weight to the car correctly. Though no points were docked, crew chief Dave Rogers and car chief Wesley Sherrill were placed on probation until October. Rogers was also given a $25,000 fine. The weight ended up falling off on the track during practice and caused minor damage to the car. Points were likely not at issue in the penalty because the problem occurred during practice and not during a race.
After being randomly chosen for a more thorough inspection after the race at MIS, inspectors found problems with Menard's car and decided to take the car in it for further inspection. It was discovered that the frame rails of the chassis had been altered, which is a huge problem and definitely against the rules. Menard, who races for Richard Childress Racing, is set to lose 25 points. His crew chief, Slugger Labbe, will be suspended until October and fined $100,000. Craig Smokstad, the car chief, and Grant Hutchens, a crew member, are also facing a suspension until October. RCR has indicated that the penalty will be appealed.
Penalties are a part of the game, but Menard's loss of 25 points is a huge penalty and that could have significantly altered the standings for the Chase for the Cup. Luckily, Busch, who has a shot at making the Chase for the Cup, was not docked any points. Given the history of the sport, it is not surprising that teams try to cheat but it is also not surprising that occasionally small variances with the strict templates would be found. With all the inspections done to the cars, it seems unlikely for a team to get away with much in the way of cheating. Some teams have managed to take advantage of rules, but it seems like few would be able to get away with any serious rule violations.
Kristin Watt has been a NASCAR Winston Cup, now Sprint Cup, fan for as long as she can remember starting way back when she was a little girl and her mother would sit on the couch with her every Sunday during the season to watch the races. Back then, they were fans of Bill Elliott and newcomer Davey Allison.