Caught Red Bull Handed
October 24, 2008 | 10:27 A.M. EST
Since the new car made its debut nearly two years ago now, NASCAR has made it clear any tampering with the machine would be dealt with in a severe manner.
Whether the team was Roush or Hendrick or Gibbs or the driver involved had the last name of Earnhardt, Johnson, Gordon or Edwards, monkeying around in any way with NASCAR's new baby was going to get you the hammer.
We've seen 150 point fines, $150,000 penalties and at least six race crew chief suspensions pretty much anytime one of these infractions were uncovered.
But despite the severity of the punishment, on and on the cheating goes with the latest example coming from the Team Red Bull camp.
Brian Vickers' car was found to have thinner than approved sheet metal on its sides after a random inspection following last week's race in Martinsville.
As a result, crewchief Kevin Hamlin and carchief Craig Smokstad were suspended indefinitely from NASCAR. Hamlin was fined $100,000. Vickers and owner Dietrich Mateschitz were docked 150 driver and 150 owner points.
Sources have pointed out that the "randomness" of the inspection may have come from inside the garage area with NASCAR getting a tip the No. 83 was outside the rulebook. It certainly wouldn't be the first time someone squealed on a fellow team.
Upon futher investigation, the team used an acid bath process to thin the sheet metal down before re-hanging it, a process that was in vogue a couple decades ago but to my knowledge hasn't been on the cheater radar screen for some time.
Obviously the thinner the sheet metal the lighter the car and in turn the faster.
Immediately after the fines and penalties were handed out we got this response from team general manager Jay Frye:
"As a team, we accept full responsibility for the infractions…and will not appeal NASCAR's ruling. This approach to racing is against the values of the Red Bull Racing Team, and the necessary steps will be taken to rectify the situation, ensuring it does not happen again. It is a privilege to race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and we are taking this penalty seriously."
If it sounds familiar it should because we've heard the same routine speech from pretty much everyone including Rick Hendrick, Jack Roush and Joe Gibbs.
So the cheating will go on and until NASCAR steps in and truly hits these teams hard by parking a car for a race there is no end in sight.
That is a speech I'm really waiting to hear.