The NASCAR Cup Series is only 14 races into the 36-race schedule, and Cup teams have already paid nearly $1 million in fines, more than tripling what teams paid in the entirety of last season. Following the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the total number of fines levied for inspection-related infractions totals to $975,000.
Stewart-Haas Racing was the most recent Cup team to get hit with a major fine, as officials found that Chase Briscoe's No. 14 car was fitted with a counterfeit part. That fine alone cost SHR $250,000.
While the money all goes to the NASCAR Foundation, one NASCAR senior official made it very clear that this high number of fines is becoming a real problem.
Elton Sawyer, NASCAR's Senior Vice President of Competition, told NBC Sports that NASCAR will continue to strictly punish teams for violating the rules. =
"If we need to bring more cars (to the R&D Center), we'll do that," Sawyer said. " Our part of this as the sanctioning body is to keep a level playing field for all the competitors, and that's what they expect us to do and that's what we'll continue to do. ... Whatever we need to do, we will do that."
"From a business model and to be equitable and sustainable going forward, this was the car that we needed. To go with that, we needed a deterrent model that would support that."
"We've been very clear. We've been very consistent with this ... and we will continue to do that. The culture that was in our garage and in the race team shops on the Gen-6 car was more of a manufacturing facility. The Next Gen car, that's not the business model."
Things are heading in the right direction, but the teams still have to clean things up according to Sawyer, or these issues will continue to exist. It all starts with the culture.
"The race teams, they're doing a better job," Sawyer said. "We still have a lot of work to do, but they have to change that culture within the walls of the race shop."
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