You have a penny in your pocket? How much is it worth?
If you are Joe Gibbs Racing, Matt Kenseth or the Crew Chief, Jason Ratcliff, it could be worth $200,000.00.
If you haven’t heard, NASCAR did a routine inspection on the engine from Kenseth’s Kansas winning #20 Toyota and found a piston connecting rod was illegally light. In total, all eight rods together were well within the requirements. However, separately, they all varied in weight with one of them falling about 2.7 grams light.
2.7 grams is, give or take a notch. what a United States penny weighs…
Toyota Racing Development, in California, supplies the engines. JGR does not assemble the engine. TRD handles that.
Now, we could see the manufacturer points getting docked. That could make sense. However, $200,000.00 from the Crew Chief, 50 driver points from Kenseth, 50 owner points from Joe Gibbs, plus suspensions and penalties that keep the #20 down for six races, all seems a bit excessive.
We could wrap our cylinder head around it if Ratcliff was found in a dark corner of the shop at 3:30AM with a connecting rod, a grinding wheel and an evil grin of malice… But he wasn’t.
So what is going on? Is it simply a “no tolerance” policy coming from NASCAR? Is this penalty a roll of rulings on the heels of the Penske thing?
Penske was hit with fines and such following a rear assembly that was found to be out of spec. In this instance, it was an obvious modification. Penske argues that the “modification” was simply an experiment in a “gray area” of rules. However it plays out, it was something done intentionally and obvious.
A piston rod shipped in an assembled engine hardly seems to fit the “deliberate” attempt to get one over on NASCAR or the other racing teams.
If there is a hot grinder in the JGR shop with forensic evidence from the underweight rod and a poorly lit video of Gibbs, Ratcliff or Kenseth giggling away while the metal is shaved, then perhaps this is a ruling to consider.
If the appeal goes their way and NASCAR puts this off as an honest mistake beyond the control of JGR and the #20 team it could go viral if, as a goof, they produced such a parody and threw it on YouTube.
If NASCAR holds steady on their decision, then it should definitely be made but add NASCAR officials busting in wearing riot gear and night vision goggles.
Right now, it is hardly funny for JGR or Kenesth and the #20 team.
However, right now, it is a silly mess.