Gibbs Challenges NASCAR Decision
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on April 26, 2013 | 5:05 P.M. EST
Gibbs: “What we’re going to appeal is the severity of the penalties."
RICHMOND, Va. - Should intent matter when determining a penalty?
NASCAR says no.
Joe Gibbs says yes.
Intent likely will be one of the key areas of Joe Gibbs Racing’s upcoming appeal. JGR is contesting the severe penalties NASCAR issued after finding one of the connecting rods in Matt Kenseth’s race-winning engine from Kansas Speedway under the minimum weight.
NASCAR’s penalties include docking Kenseth 50 points, not counting his win toward wildcard eligibility, suspending crew chief Jason Ratcliff for six points races and fining him $200,000 and barring Joe Gibbs from collecting owner points for the No. 20 car for six points races.
All sides agree that one of the eight connecting rods did not meet the minimum weight of 525 grams. Kenseth, Ratcliff and Toyota Racing Development stated the rod was about 3 grams underweight.
“That goes against the rules, we understand that and we know that there is going to be a penalty for that,’’ Gibbs said Friday at Richmond International Raceway. “What we’re going to appeal is the severity of the penalties.’’
The appeal will attack the penalties by stating that punishment is too severe for the infraction.
“The intent here was not to get an unfair advantage in any way,’’ Gibbs said. “That’s very important to me.
“When you have motor experts look at it basically what they would say is there is no advantage to having that one light rod in that motor.’’
Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition, said it’s not for series officials to decipher intent.
“There are reasons there are rules,’’ he said. “There are reasons that there are defined numbers, okay? They're not there we didn't just dream numbers up. We work with the teams, we work with manufacturers, and we work with outside experts to get these parameters. They know. When you look at the rule book, you say, oh, I can't be here. I have to be there, right.
“I don't want to be so cold about it, but that's just the way it is. That's why you have these parameters put into play. They know ahead of time where they're supposed to be.’’
Gibbs suggested intent matters.
“For me personally, in my entire life and every decision or just about every decision I've made, I felt like intent was very important,’’ he said. “Whether it was somebody doing something in a situation where somebody has done something maybe against me, the first thing I wanted to know is what was their intent?
“Was it an accident? Was it a mistake or did they purposely try and do something?’’
Gibbs stressed how this infraction was “probably one of the bigger things that has happened in my life professionally’’ from a negative standpoint.
He also worries about how the infraction _ which Toyota Racing Development has accepted responsibility for since it builds Sprint Cup engines for Joe Gibbs Racing _ impacts the team’s reputation.
“I turn on the radio sometimes and hear things,’‘ said Gibbs, who reaffirmed his desire to have TRD build his team’s Cup engines. “Those, to me, are real personal things because you spend your life trying to live a certain way. That's a real personal thing, something that has a big effect on me.’’