NASCAR issued one of the largest penalties in its history Tuesday afternoon to Richard Childress Racing, in particular Ryan Newman. Newman was docked 75 championship points, RCR 75 ownership points, suspended Luke Lambert, the crew chief of the #31 Chevrolet, Philip Surgen, the team engineer, and James Bender, the tire technician, for six races and on probation until Dec. 31.
Along with the points and suspension Lambert was handed down a $125,000 fine, after finding evidence that the team had doctored its tires, by drilling small holes in the tires in order to let air out during the course of a run, giving the tire better wear and grip on the racing surface, at Auto Club Speedway.
The RCR team of Newman’s was found guilty, earning the team a ‘P5’ penalty on NASCAR’s six-tier infractions scale.
In NASCAR it is known that one does not modify or manipulate the engines, fuel or the tires. Any illegal modification or manipulation in those areas is frowned upon.
“NASCAR takes very seriously its responsibility to govern and regulate the rules of the sport in order to ensure competitive balance,” said Steve O’Donnell, Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer. “We’ve been very clear that any modifications to race vehicle tires is an unacceptable practice and will not be tolerated.”
NASCAR warned crew chiefs on Friday, at Martinsville Speedway, there would be harsh penalties for any team caught cheating, also took tires after the Martinsville race. The teams with tires taken were: Joey Logano, AJ Allmendinger, Martin Truex Jr. and Matt Kenseth, all were found to be legal.
This penalty means Newman, who surprisingly made the championship run last season without having a victory, means he ultimately needs a victory this season to make the Chase, after falling from sixth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings to 26th.
Newman has not won a race since he joined the RCR at the start of last year. His last victory was at Indianapolis, July 2013, with Stewart-Haas Racing, driving the #39 Chevrolet.
In a statement released by RCR, Torrey Galida, President of Richard Childress Racing, said that the team was awaiting more information from NASCAR on the specific details of the infraction before deciding how to proceed.
“We understand the seriousness of the penalty. In fact, RCR has been one of the most outspoken opponents against ‘tire bleeding’ since the rumors began to surface last season,” Galida said in a statement. “Once NASCAR provides us with the specific details of the infraction we will conduct a further internal investigation, and evaluate our options for an appeal.”
After taking tires from the March 22 race at Auto Club Speedway, teams were well aware there would be consequences if any results came back positive, the tire were sent to an independent lab for analysis.
Kevin Harvick’s, #4 Chevrolet had been the subject of many rumors, but crew chief Rodney Childers maintained that his team was not engaging in any such practices, Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kurt Busch, as well as Newman’s RCR teammate Paul Menard were cleared in the tire investigation after Auto Club.