via press release
The No. 31 team that competes in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has been penalized for rules infractions discovered as a result of NASCAR’s post-event tire audit conducted following the March 22 race at Auto Club Speedway.
These infractions amount to a P5 level penalty and violate the following Sections in the 2015 NASCAR rule book:
12.1: Actions detrimental to stock car racing
20.16: Wheels and tires
A. 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.
F. Modifications to the tires, by treatment or any other means, will not be permitted.
Section 18.104.22.168.1 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.
22.214.171.124.2: Minimum P5 Penalty Options (includes all four points below):
A. Loss of 50 championship driver and owner points, regardless of whether the violation occurred during a Championship race or not
B. $75,000-$125,000 fine
C. Suspension for the next six series Championship Races, plus any non-championship races or special events which might occur during that time period, for the crew chief and any other team members as determined by NASCAR
D. Probation through the end of the calendar year for all suspended members, or for a six-month period following the issuance of the penalty notice if that period spans across two consecutive seasons
126.96.36.199.3: P5 Level infractions detected during post-race inspection:
If the infraction is detected during post-race inspection, then the following penalty elements will be added to those listed previously in this section:
A. Loss of an additional 25 Championship driver and owner points; regardless of whether it was a Championship Race or not
B. Loss of an additional $50,000
As a result of these violations, crew chief Luke Lambert has been fined a total of $125,000 ($75,000 plus $50,000), suspended from the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship races, plus any non-championship races or special events which might occur during that time period, and been placed on NASCAR probation through Dec. 31. James Bender, team tire technician, and Philip Surgen, team engineer, have been suspended from the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship races, plus any non-championship races or special events which might occur during that time period, and been placed on NASCAR probation through Dec. 31.
Driver Ryan Newman and car owner Richard Childress each have been penalized with the loss of 75 (50 plus 25) championship driver and championship car owner points.
“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.”
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