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Monday, February 12
NASCAR levies fines and suspensions
ESPN.com news services
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. The long arm of the law known as NASCAR struck big on Monday.
Tony Furr, crew chief for Jerry Nadeau's Chevrolet, which qualified for the front row before his speed was disallowed, received a four-race suspension and a $10,000 fine for not meeting the minimum height specifications following Saturday's qualifying at Daytona International Speedway. Furr was fined an additional $2,500 for fuel cell violations prior to Saturday's qualifying.
Both violations placed Furr on probation until the end of the year and his suspension begins on Friday, February 23 at the North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, North Carolina.
Kevin Cram, crew chief for the No. 01 Dodge Intrepid driven by rookie Jason Leffler, received a four-race suspension and a $10,000 fine for fuel violations during qualifying for the "use of altered fuel or fuel other than the official fuel at the event."
Gary DeHart, crew chief for Terry Labonte's Chevrolet Monte Carlo, received a $5,000 fine and placed on probation for the year for roof air deflector violations prior to Saturday's qualifying. DeHart also received an additional $1,000 fine for fuel cell violations for "any violation of fuel or fuel cell container.
A right rear jack screw on Nadeau's car was designed to have a piece break away from the car while it was on the race track.
"We took some parts from the car, we looked at them and a member of the cleanup crew found some parts that came off on the race track," said Gary Nelson, NASCAR Winston Cup director. "The piece was designed to break away or fall out while it was on the race track. The car got that much lower and continued on it's qualifying run."
Nelson spent much of Monday's activities at Daytona International Speedway meeting with the crew chiefs who were penalized.
"The first parties we need to inform of any penalties are the individuals who are receiving the penalties," Nelson said. "There is a story behind every one of these penalties and I heard every one of them today.
"We went through a period in NASCAR about five years ago where we said to the competitors, here is a big fine and if we catch someone else doing it, we'll raise that fine. The fines really aren't getting the message across because of the sponsorship dollars. We are going to try the suspension part of it for the guys who are caught. The message to the team is it's a good way to get suspended if we catch you with a major rules violation."
Also, Chris Carrier, crew chief for Joe Nemechek, oversized fuel cell containers and windshield template violation, $750; Larry Carter, crew chief for Todd Bodine, fuel cell check valve violations and adjustable braces, $500; Frankie Stoddard, Jeff Burton's crew chief, oversized fuel cell container, $250; Stan Hoover, crew chief for Morgan Shepherd, fuel cell check valve violation, $500 and Tim Brewer, crew chief for Mike Wallace, adjustable braces, $250.
Also, Patrick Donahue, Casey Atwood's crew chief, adjustable braces, $250; Robin Pemberton, Rusty Wallace's crew chief, adjustable braces, $250; Kevin Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt's crew chief, oversized fuel cell container, $250; Barry Dodson, Kenny Wallace's crew chief, oversized fuel cell container, $250 and Lee McCall, Sterling Marlin's crew chief, adjustable braces, $250.
Furr was unavailable for comment. Andy Graves, team manager for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, spoke on behalf of Cram.
"Even though this news comes as a surprise to all of us, we are looking into the matter and will abide by NASCAR's rule," Graves said.
Furr and Cram will be allowed to work with the team for the remainder of Daytona 500 activities so the suspensions go into effect before next week's race at Rockingham, North Carolina.
"We do control a lot of things, but their paychecks is one of the things we do not," Nelson said. "We will start the suspensions at Rockingham because we are already in the event so in all fairness, we will start them at the end of this event, which ends on Sunday night. It made the most sense to us to take the penalties these guys have and go into the Rockingham race.
"What we had with Tony Furr is a violation that was meant to take away positions from the competitors who were trying to qualify for the Daytona 500, to come up with a part designed only to circumvent the rules and the fuel cell violation. I think every crew chief in the garage area would say a suspension is in order."
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