Jeremy Mayfield, his crew chief and team owner all were penalized by NASCAR officials today for what the sanctioning body said was illegal fuel used in the April 16 DieHard 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. NASCAR said the three were sanctioned...
Jeremy Mayfield, his crew chief and team owner all were penalized by NASCAR officials today for what the sanctioning body said was illegal fuel used in the April 16 DieHard 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. NASCAR said the three were sanctioned for violating a provision in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series rule book prohibiting "the use of altered fuel or fuel other than the official fuel at the event."
Mayfield was stripped of 151 points in the season driver standings. Team owner Michael Kranefuss was fined $50,000 and stripped of 151 points in the owners' standings. Crew chief Peter Sospenzo was suspended until June 6.
"Through a routine post-race fuel sampling, we found a foreign substance in the fuel of the No. 12 car following the race at Talladega," NASCAR senior vice president and chief operating officer Mike Helton said. "We took several fuel samples, and the sample from the No. 12 car read consistently different than that sample that was taken from our fuel source on site."
Helton said NASCAR officials determined the additive was placed in the tank of Mayfield's Mobil 1 Taurus on the final pit stop of the race. Mayfield, running fifth at the time, slipped to a 14th-place finish.
The additive was put in the tank by a crew member whose identity was not released.
"We're convinced that neither Michael nor Jeremy knew what happened," Helton said.
Kranefuss said the decision by the crew member was a "grave error in judgment."
"Needless to say, we accept the penalty, we have taken disciplinary action within our team and we apologize to our fans, our sponsors, NASCAR and the other teams," Kranefuss said. "We will make sure nothing like this will ever happen again. We will continue to work to put the best possible race car on the track each week within the rules."
Mayfield won the Bud Pole two days before the race, but Helton said NASCAR officials found no problems with the car's fuel that day.
Today's penalties mean Mayfield, who won Sunday's NAPA Auto Parts 500 at California Speedway, fell from seventh to 14th in the season driver standings.
"We're all embarrassed and we're going to make sure nothing like this happens again," Mayfield said after the penalties were announced. "There were some things done that were wrong. But we're going to work together as a team to get back to where we were before. We are a good race team. Everyone has been supportive of each other. From our owners to our sponsors to the guys in the shop, we're a family here. We've done a lot of good things together, and we'll continue to be a family."
Helton said NASCAR sent the questionable fuel to outside laboratories for additional testing.
"In addition, numerous discussions were held with the laboratories, team members and specific individuals to be as exact and fair as possible," Helton said. "It is up to NASCAR to ensure that the competitors in the garage area know that everyone is on a level playing field."