The points - give or take 25

Following the race at Martinsville Ward Burton was penalized 25 points for having unapproved front springs. Burton's crew chief Frank Stoddard was fined $10,000. With the 25 point deduction, Burton fell back a spot to 25th in the standings after...

Following the race at Martinsville Ward Burton was penalized 25 points for having unapproved front springs. Burton's crew chief Frank Stoddard was fined $10,000. With the 25 point deduction, Burton fell back a spot to 25th in the standings after moving up to 24th with his fifth place run. He, along with Stoddard, are the latest of a long list throughout the course of the 2002 season which have been penalized for stretching the rules.

Two weeks prior at Talladega, Rusty Wallace was also docked 25 points when his car was found with "an inconsistent thickness" of the rear spoiler. Wa llace's spoiler issue was found during pre-practice inspection and he and his Penske team didn't even race with it on the car. Wallace's crew chief Billy Wilburn had to pay up $25,000. for the infraction. Wallace currently sits fourth in driver standings.

Wallace and Burton aren't alone when it comes to losing ground in the standings. Throughout the course of the season, we've seen NASCAR hand out many penalties through the new Winston Cup director, John Darby. Although many in the garage may say Darby is on a power trip, others see him simply doing what he feels is best for the sport to keep the competition equal and fair, minus cheating.

At Daytona in July, Darby was a busy man and handed out numerous fines. The biggest of which was a $25,000. fine to Chad Knaus, Jimmie Johnson's crew chief, for using offset mounting bolts on the front of the trunk trailing arms. Johnson lost 25 points in the process.

Knaus may be feeling a little lighter in the wallet as his fine worth 25 grand wasn't his last on the season. Following the 48 team's win at Dover, Knaus was overly excited and spouted off a four letter word unsuitable for basic television during his post-race interview. He was then fined $5,000.

On the racing side of things, Johnson now sits second behind Tony Stewart in the championship point standings and tries not to think about the infraction at Daytona. "There's nothing we can do about it. We lost some points there. There are other points where I've made rookie mistakes that have cost us more than 25 points. Like racing Jimmy Spencer at Richmond and sliding through my pit stall at Lowe's Motor Speedway. There are a lot of things you can reflect back on. We're going to try not to think about those 25 points from Daytona and hope they won't come into play."

Also at Daytona in July, crew chiefs Scott Eggleston, Jimmy Elledge, Newt Moore, James Ince, Chris Carrier and Lee McCall were all slammed with $500 fines for unapproved parts.

From springs, to spoilers, to bolts and language, NASCAR has been a money maker when it comes to fines this season. But some penalties, including Knaus' foul mouth are irrelevant when it comes time to determine the championship. What is relevant is the fine line between stretching the rules; getting away with it or getting caught. One thing to point out -- although current points leader Tony Stewart is on probation for reasons not related to racing, he and his 20 team have yet to receive any type of point deduction. Wouldn't it be interesting if Johnson or Wallace lost the title by only 25 points?

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ward Burton , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Jimmy Spencer , Chad Knaus , Chris Carr