NASCAR suspends members of Michael Waltrip Racing
Racing series NASCAR-CUP
Date 2007-02-14 (Daytona Beach, FL)
By Joe Jennings - Motorsport.com
NASCAR levied fines and suspensions Wednesday against Michael Waltrip and his team, but he will be able to race a back-up car in a Gatorade Duel on Thursday. Since his team lacks sufficient owner points, he must race his way into the Daytona 500.
The Waltrip team has been fined $100,000 and 100 owner and driver points will be deducted from their forthcoming accumulations based on violations with the team's primary car. The car is owned by Elizabeth (Buffy) Waltrip, Michael's spouse.
In addition, Waltrip's crew chief, Larry David Hyder, was fined $100,000 and along with Bobby Kennedy, the team's vice president of competition, they have been ejected from the Daytona International Speedway. Also, they have been suspended indefinitely, and the suspensions are not subject to appeal.
The violations focus on a substance found in the fuel line, and the substance was detected during both pre- and post-qualifying technical inspections. When a foreign odor was detected in the initial inspection, the team was allowed to replace the manifold. But the second manifold had the same odor present.
"This team went across the line to ensure a starting position in the Daytona 500," Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition, stated. He did not provide specifics on the substance in question.
The announcement was made by Jim Hunter, NASCAR's vice president of communications, and Pemberton. Hunter ranked the violation as one of the most flagrant in the history of the Daytona 500.
"We are very disappointed and concerned with the events that have happened over the past few days," said Jim Aust, Toyota's vice president of motorsports. "Toyota certainly does not condone actions such as these by any of our NASCAR partners."
NASCAR has confiscated the team's primary car and it is being transported to NASCAR's Research and Development Center in Concord, N. C. for further analysis. The investigation is considered to be ongoing.
Waltrip was unable to practice today in his back-up car as his team was unable to prepare the car in time. The back-up car reportedly passed a thorough technical inspection in the late afternoon, allowing Waltrip to start in a Gatorade Duel on Thursday.
Penalties announced for MWR No. 55
Racing series NASCAR-CUP
NASCAR Confiscates No. 55
Team's Crew Chief and VP of Competition Ejected, Suspended Indefinitely
Crew Chief Fined $100,000
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 14, 2007) -- NASCAR announced Wednesday that it has confiscated the primary car of the No. 55 Toyota team that competes in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series with driver Michael Waltrip, as a result of rule violations found during pre- and post-qualifying inspection for the Daytona 500. Crew chief Larry (David) Hyder and the team's vice president of competition Bobby Kennedy have been ejected from this week's events at Daytona International Speedway and suspended indefinitely. Hyder also has been fined $100,000.
NASCAR also penalized Waltrip with the loss of 100 driver championship points. His qualifying time from pole day on Feb. 11 was disallowed. Team owner Elizabeth (Buffy) Waltrip has been penalized 100 car owner championship points.
The actions taken by NASCAR resulted from violations of 12- 4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing), 12-4-Q (car, car parts components and/or equipment not conforming to NASCAR rules) and 20-15.2C (gasoline must not be blended with alcohols, ethers or other oxygenates).
The confiscated car and the parts related to the violations will be transported to the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C. for further inspection.
NASCAR said the investigation of the confiscated car is ongoing.
Michael Waltrip statement on penalties
Racing series NASCAR-CUP
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 14, 2007) -- Michael Waltrip's statement regarding the NASCAR penalties handed down this evening to the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing entry:
"In the past 12 months, Michael Waltrip Racing has hired more than 150 people and we currently employ more than 200. Although we have grown at an accelerated pace, it has been our mission to hire people with high moral value and character to properly represent our sponsors and our ownership.
"During preparations for the 2007 season and especially the 2007 Daytona 500, I specifically requested that our competition teams not disrespect NASCAR, our competitors or our sponsors by blatantly circumventing the rules.
"This is not the action of an organization, a manufacturer or a sponsor. This was an independent act done without consent or authorization from me or any of my executive management team. As an owner, I realize I am ultimately held responsible for the actions of my employees. Therefore, I accept the penalties issued tonight by NASCAR.
"I respect NASCAR's rules, its people and the sport's integrity, which is why I am so sad and embarrassed. I am dedicated to get to the bottom of this because I will not let the independent act of an individual or individuals tarnish the incredible accomplishment my organization has made to be where we are today.
"I want to apologize to the other owners, who know how hard I've worked to get here in such a short period of time, NASCAR, Toyota, NAPA, all my sponsors, the drivers and especially the fans."