Hefty Fine For Leslie

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Mark Martin’s 1/8th-inch violation cost his Roush Racing team $50,000 in a fine handed down Tuesday afternoon by NASCAR.

Martin’s car was found to be an eighth-of-an-inch under the minimum height of 51 inches in a post-race inspection after his victory in the Coca-Cola 600 Sunday night at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The victory stands, and Martin was not docked any Winston Cup points.

Ben Leslie, crew chief for Martin, was the receiver of the fine. Leslie won his first race Sunday as a Winston Cup crew chief.

“NASCAR set the height rule, and it doesn’t matter whether it is one inch or 1/8th of an inch,” Leslie said. “With 600 miles of racing there is a great deal of wear and tear and adjustments that have to be made on the car.

“If you think of it that way, with the race being so long and all of the adjustments that are required in that type of the race, 1/8th of an inch is not a lot. On top of that, we had some cooling problems to work on throughout the race, and between that and the normal adjustments, it’s hard not to lose some height. It didn’t have any impact on the outcome of the race at all.

“Still, NASCAR has to draw the line somewhere, and we didn’t measure up to that line. It’s a steep fine, but those are the rules of the game.”

Roush Racing does not plan to appeal the fine.

Martin remains third in the points standings, 143 behind leader Sterling Marlin. Martin won for the first time since April 2000, a span of 73 races.

The $50,000 fine was one of the heaviest levied by the sanctioning body. And it exceeded the $30,000 that Matt Kenseth’s team was docked at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, N.C., earlier this year for a similar infraction.

Kenseth’s car, also a Roush Racing effort, was found to be a quarter-inch too low after winning the Subway 400 in February.

The fine was the fourth levied against a Winston Cup team for failing to meet the minimum-height requirement in the last four years. Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s car was one-eighth-of-an-inch too low after winning the EA Sports 500 at Talladega Superspeedway last October, and Mayfield’s was too low after winning at California Speedway in 2000.

Both Earnhardt Jr. and Mayfield received $25,000 fines.

Twelve years ago, Martin was caught with an illegal carburetor spacer after winning at Richmond, Va. The penalty there was a bit more severe: He was docked 46 points – and ended up losing the Winston Cup title by 26 points to Dale Earnhardt.

Leslie was penalized under Section 12-4-T of Winston Cup rule book: “Any car that is found to be under the specified height requirement after the completion… of the race.”

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