NASCAR & Auto Racing

Penalties levied after NASCAR rules bodywork out of bounds

NASCAR on Wednesday dropped heavy penalties on Red Bull Racing for that team's decision to go light in Sunday's race at Martinsville Speedway.

NASCAR ruled that some of the sheet metal used on the exterior of the No. 83 Toyota driven by Brian Vickers at Martinsville did not meet the specified minimum thickness as prescribed by rule 20-2. 1-D in the Sprint Cup Series rulebook.

As a result, crew chief Kevin Hamlin and car chief Craig Smokstad were suspended indefinitely from NACSAR. Hamlin was also fined $100,000 and the team was docked 150 driver points and 150 owner points.

The loss of 150 driver points drops Vickers from 15th to 17th in the standings, behind Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Newman.

"We accept full responsibility for the infractions ... and will not appeal NASCAR's ruling," said Jay Frye, the team's vice president and general manager. "This approach to racing is against the values of the Red Bull Racing Team and the necessary steps will be taken ... ensuring that it does not happen again.

"It is a privilege to race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and we are taking this penalty seriously."

Randy Cox, the team's research and development manager, will serve as interim crew chief for the No. 83 team this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Vickers' car was selected randomly for inspection following his 11th-place finish at Martinsville. NASCAR took the car to its research and development center in Concord and determined the violation there.

Sheet metal parts on the car's exterior must be made from metal with a 24-gauge thickness, or 25-thousandths of an inch.

The idea behind going thinner than that would be to save weight on those parts. That weight would then be added back to the car in the form of ballast, which could be placed lower to drop the car's center of gravity and more to the left side to help make it turn through the corners.