Thorsport Racing, along with former Truck Series point leader Johnny Sauter are reeling this Wednesday after a major penalty involving their No. 98 Toyota. On Wednesday, NASCAR announced the team was fined $10,000, crew chief Joel Shear has been suspended for four races and 25 owner points were taken away as a result of a faulty fuel cell, confiscated during pre-race inspection at Kansas. Driver Sauter was also hit was a loss of 25 points, completely reshaping the championship Chase heading into the next race of the season at Charlotte May 17th.
According to NASCAR officials, the team violated multiple sections of the rulebook. The key ones involve Section 20B-16 and 20B-16.1B, regarding the proper size and functioning of fuel cells. “Once a fuel cell or fuel cell components have been certified,” the rules say, “Modifications of any kind will not be permitted.” The 16.1B portion refers to black safety foam, with a minimum height of eight inches that must be used as a safety mechanism when putting together the fuel cell itself. By violating that rule, NASCAR is insinuating the team modified or enhanced the cell in some way by cutting back / replacing that foam.
Section 12-1, actions detrimental to stock car racing was also listed as a rules violation along with 12-4K, which gives NASCAR Officials the leeway to penalize teams when they feel previously legal equipment was modified, in any manner after being initially inspected.
Thorsport, as of yet has not said whether they plan to appeal. The penalties mean Matt Crafton becomes the new Truck Series point leader, by 13 over Jeb Burton while Sauter gets pushed back into a tie for second place.
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