CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Matt Kenseth's race-winning car from Kansas failed inspection at NASCAR's Research and Development Center, The Associated Press has learned.
NASCAR officials were discussing Wednesday what penalties to levy against Kenseth and Joe Gibbs Racing, multiple people familiar with the inspection told the AP on the condition of anonymity because no decision has been made.
The engine, which is supplied by Toyota Racing Development out of Costa Mesa, Calif., failed because one of the eight connecting rods did not meet the minimum weight requirement. While it could be a quality control issue that did not provide Kenseth any advantage, NASCAR would still hold JGR and the No. 20 team responsible.
Penalties could include a loss of points for Kenseth, a fine for crew chief Jason Ratcliff and suspensions of six weeks or more for Ratcliff and other members of the JGR organization.
The failed inspection comes on the heels of NASCAR penalizing Penske Racing for using parts it said were unapproved in the rear suspension of its cars at Texas. NASCAR docked 25 points each from defending champion Brad Keselowski and teammate Joey Logano, fined the crew chiefs $100,000 each and suspended seven Penske employees for six races.
Penske Racing's appeal is scheduled for May 1.
NASCAR is far stricter about engine infractions and severely punished the last violator, Carl Long, who was found to have an illegal engine at the 2009 All-Star Race. Long was docked 200 points — which would be about 50 points under the current points system — fined $200,000 and suspended 12 races.
His suspension was reduced to eight races on appeal, but Long is unable to pay the fine and can't work in the Sprint Cup garage until he settles his debt with NASCAR.
Kenseth drove the No. 20 Toyota to his second win of the season Sunday in Kansas, where he held off Kasey Kahne of Hendrick Motorsports in the closing laps. It is standard procedure for the race winning engine to go back to Concord for a thorough inspection.