NASCAR penalties are not uncommon as the sanctioning body routinely hands down punishments for such things as unapproved or illegal parts, on-track issues, drug use, etc. Some weeks, there are no penalty announcements, other weeks there may be one or two here and there. This week, however, there may be a large rash of penalties, all for the same issue — illegal roof flap spacers.
Some 31 cars had issues getting through NASCAR inspection during this past race weekend at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway that culminated in Saturday night’s running of the Coke Zero 400. Sixteen of those cars had their roof flap spacers confiscated early on in the weekend. The affected parties included mostly Ford and Toyota teams — three Roush Fenway cars (No. 16 of Greg Biffle, No. 17 of Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 99 of Carl Edwards), two Penske Racing teams (No. 2 of Brad Keselowski and No. 22 of Joey Logano), two Richard Petty Motorsports cars (No. 9 of Marcos Ambrose and No. 43 of Aric Almirola), Germain Racing (No. 13 of Casey Mears), Wood Brothers Racing (No. 21 of Trevor Bayne), three Michael Waltrip Racing teams (No. 15 of Clint Bowyer, No. 55 of Michael Waltrip, No. 56 of Martin Truex Jr.) and three Joe Gibbs Racing cars (No. 11 of Denny Hamlin, No. 18 of Kyle Busch, No. 20 of Matt Kenseth). The lone Chevrolet team with the same roof flap spacer issue was the No. 1 Earnhardt Gannassi car driven by Jamie McMurray.
“Certainly, we all try to do the best we can with trying to get weight out of these cars, especially weight that is up high,” Kyle Busch told the Sporting News. “A roof flap is the first place everybody is going to look. A lot of teams were doing it. Ours were safer than some others but that still doesn’t constitute what the rule says.”
NASCAR officials discovered on Thursday that the previously mentioned teams had either changed or lightened the roof flap spacers that are used to attach the hinges of the roof flaps to their cars. All teams get their roof flaps from Roush Composites. Included in the packaging containing the roof flaps are the parts needed for installation, including the spacers, and instructions for installation. According to NASCAR rules, the parts in that packaging are what is supposed to be used and installation is supposed to be according to the included instructions.
According to the same report in the Sporting News, NASCAR Vice President of Competition, Robin Pemberton, speculated that modifying or changing the spacers was probably something teams have been doing for awhile and just not gotten caught, since so many of them were doing it.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR