It's not a good week to be a NASCAR driver named Chase. First, you have Chase Elliott's suspension, and now Chase Briscoe's No. 14 team finds itself at the mercy of NASCAR after Stewart-Haas Racing was hammered with one of the biggest penalties in the sport's history after the Coca-Cola 600.
After NASCAR's Research and Development Center found a counterfeit part on the underwing of Briscoe's No. 14 Ford, the sanctioning body levied massive penalties against his team, including a $250,000 fine and the loss of 120 regular season points and 25 playoff points. Briscoe's crew chief John Klausmeier was also fined and suspended for the next six Cup Series races.
Since the Next Gen Car was introduced in 2022, NASCAR has required teams to purchase most car parts from a specific vendor, threatening severe penalties for part modification, with the intent being to maintain greater parity among teams.
Briscoe finished 20th in the Coke 600 on Monday, and his car was one of the two randomly selected cars sent to R&D by NASCAR officials. SHR's Chief Competition Officer Greg Zipadelli claimed that it was a complete accident that the illegal part was put on the car for the Charlotte race.
"We had a quality control lapse and a part that never should've been on a car going to the racetrack ended up on the No. 14 car at Charlotte," Zipadelli said. "We accept NASCAR's decision and will not appeal."
Elton Sawyer, NASCAR's Senior Vice President of Competition, didn't quite see it as a mere accident by Stewart-Haas Racing, which he indicated during a Wednesday interview on NASCAR Race Hub.
NASCAR's Elton Sawyer spoke with FS1's NASCAR Race Hub about the L3-level penalty given to Stewart-Haas Racing and Chase Briscoe. pic.twitter.com/W0dEA9mJtp
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) May 31, 2023
"In the post-race inspection at the R&D Center, we found the No. 14 car had an engine panel NACA duct not in compliance with the rule book," Sawyer said in another interview with NASCAR.com. "It is a counterfeit part, and that is an L3 penalty. ... We need to make sure we're keeping the teams and the car in compliance. The deterrence model has to fit that, and that's our responsibility as custodians of the sport and of the garage."
"Don't mess with a single-source part. Working in areas we used to in the Gen-6 car is just not going to be acceptable with this car as we move forward. It's not going to be the culture we're going to allow."
The L3 penalty, which is the most severe in NASCAR, bumps Briscoe from four points behind the current playoff cutline to 124 points behind, forcing Chase into a must-win situation to even make the playoffs. Even if he does find a way to make the playoffs, having negative 25 playoff points won't help him get anywhere.
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