The No. 31 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team has been penalized by NASCAR for a violation discovered during a post-event tire audit following the Auto Club 400 at the Auto Club Speedway.
NASCAR announced the team will be issued a P5 level penalty for violating:
12.1: Actions detrimental to stock car racing
20.16: Wheels and tires
- Any device, modification, or procedure to the tire or wheel, including the valve stem hardware, that is used to release pressure, beyond normal pressure adjustments, from the tire and/or inner shield, will not be permitted.
- Modifications to the tires, by treatment or any other means, will not be permitted.
Section 22.214.171.124.1 lists P5 Penalty Violation examples that could include but are not limited to:
A. Effecting, modifying and/or altering the standard tires in any way, other than through authorized means such as tire pressure adjustments within the recommended range, permitted tire cooling when mounted on the race vehicle; or heat-cycling on the race vehicle on the race track earlier in the event.
Crew chief Luke Lambert has been fined $125,000 and will be suspended over the next six points paying events, including any non-points paying races over that time. He will also be placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31.
In addition, the team’s tire specialist James Bender and Philip Surgen, a team engineer, have also been suspended for the next six championship events in the Sprint Cup Series (again including any non-points events during the same time frame). Both men are also on probation until the end of 2015.
Ryan Newman, who drives the No. 31 Chevrolet, and team owner Richard Childress will be docked 75 driver points and 75 owner points, respectively.
“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, NASCAR 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.”
Over the course of the last three races or so, NASCAR has been taking tires from teams after the race for further investigation. After the second week, a few teams were suspected of tampering with the tires. NASCAR then sent the tires to a third-party to have them evaluated further.
A tire audit is not unusual, and NASCAR has conducted them in the past.
Statement from Torrey Galida, President of Richard Childress Racing:
“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. 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.”
The penalty will drop Newman from sixth in the points standings to 26th. However, he will still be eligible for a Chase spot if he wins a race before the cutoff in the September race at Richmond International Raceway, so long as he remains in the top 30 in points. He finished 27th last weekend at Martinsville Speedway.