NASCAR competition officials issued significant penalties Wednesday to Premium Motorsports, Rick Ware Racing and Spire Motorsports for manipulating the results of the season-ending Monster Energy Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
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Scott Miller, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition, said that four teams were docked 50 points from the 2019 team owner standings for their role in altering the finishing order of the Ford EcoBoost 400 on Nov. 17. Suspensions and fines were also included in the punishment.
“Following a thorough review of race data and driver/team communication from the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, as well as interviews with several competitors, NASCAR has determined that the Nos. 15, 27, 52 and 77 teams have violated Sections 12.8.g and 12.8.1 of the NASCAR rule book, which addresses manipulating the outcome of a race,” Miller said in a statement. “As a result, those teams in violation of the rule book have been penalized as listed in the penalty report.”
The report lists indefinite suspensions for Scott Eggleston, competition director for Premium Motorsports, and Kenneth Evans, who holds the same role with Rick Ware Racing. Both were fined $25,000.
Team owners Rick Ware, Jay Robinson of Premium, and T.J. Puchyr of Spire were all fined $50,000. All four teams had 50 points deducted from their totals in the final team owner standings.
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Premium Motorsports had been aiming to finish in the top spot among Open, non-chartered teams in the final team owner standings. The Premium No. 15 of Joe Nemechek, the Spire No. 77 of Reed Sorenson and the Rick Ware Racing No. 52 of Josh Bilicki all retired with mechanical troubles within a 15-lap span near the end of the race, securing a one-point margin in the standings for the Premium No. 27 driven to a 35th-place finish by Ross Chastain in the season finale.
The penalty elevates the No. 96 of Gaunt Brothers Racing to the top ranking among Open teams for the 2019 season.
Spire Motorsports co-owners Puchyr and Jeff Dickerson indicated in a statement later Wednesday the organization would not appeal the penalties.
“Following the season finale at Homestead Miami Speedway, NASCAR assessed a penalty against Spire Motorsports for the actions of an individual who made a judgment call on behalf of our team,” the Spire statement read. “While the ultimate outcome of that decision can be interpreted from different perspectives, we regret any appearance of operating outside the spirit of the rule book. We accept the penalty and will not appeal. We’re proud of all we accomplished with this team in our first season and look forward to getting back to the business of racing at Daytona in February.”
The most recent high-profile instance of race manipulation came in September 2013, when NASCAR officials ruled that Michael Waltrip Racing had tampered with the results of the regular-season finale at Richmond Raceway. Waltrip’s organization was fined $300,000 and Martin Truex Jr., then its top driver, was removed from the playoff picture.