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Childress’ compromise on penalties doesn’t work in NASCAR court

September 10, 2012

Can you see the illegal frame rails on this car? Didn’t think so…
NASCAR photo

It doesn’t always work to be reasonable with a sanctioning body, as Richard Childress learned today when NASCAR’s appeals panel decided to ban his car chief and engineer, Craig Smokstad and Grant Hutchens for six weeks for violating NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rules.

The violations occurred during post-race inspection of the No. 27 RCR Chevy at Michigan International Speedway on August 19th and were the usual: Section 12-1: actions detrimental to stock car racing. In addition, RCR was found guilty of violating Sections 12-4K: If, in the judgment of NASCAR officials, race equipment that has been previously certified or previously approved by NASCAR for use in an event, pursuant to sub-section 8-12, has been altered, modified, repaired or changed in any matter. RCR was accused of “intentionally modifying previously certified frame rails for the purpose of deceiving NASCAR’s inspection gauges.”

Initially, Richard Childress lost 25 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship car owners points – and he didn’t dispute that; driver Paul Menard was stripped of 25 driver points; crew chief Richard “Slugger” Labbe incurred a $100,000 fine and was suspended from NASCAR for six weeks, as well as placed on probation until the end of the year; Smokstad and Hutchens were suspended for six weeks and also placed on probation to the end of the calendar year.

Childress didn’t appeal the points loss or Labbe’s penalties – Slugger began serving his suspension on September 4th and has been tweeting about his imposed vacation. Childress acknowledged that the car failed post-race inspection as well. The veteran car owner and former driver was trying to be reasonable about the the penalties and attempting to keep his crew intact.

He did appeal the six-week suspensions for his car chief and engineer but the panel, comprised of Dale Pinilis, Robert Yates, jack Housby and appellate administrator and non-voting member Jason Cohen disagreed with Childress.

The suspension of Smokstad and Hutchens begins at once and they have been banned from the next six races in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Childress can appeal this decision to the chief appellate officer, if he wants to take the case farther. Driver Paul Menard is not engaged in the 12-member Chase this year.

By Anne Proffit

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