Red Bull fires supervisor, reprimands others after major violation, penalties
HAMPTON, Ga. -- Red Bull Racing has fired a supervisor and reprimanded several other employees for their involvement in the violation that resulted in major points penalties and suspensions for Brian Vickers' team, general manager Jay Frye said on Friday.
Vickers was fined 150 driver points and crew chief Kevin Hamlin was indefinitely suspended and fined $100,000 after NASCAR officials determined during a random post-race inspection at Martinsville that the sheet metal did not meet the minimum thickness specifications.
Frye said Hamlin and Vickers had no knowledge of the violation that also resulted in the indefinite suspension of car chief Craig Smokstad and the loss of 150 owner points to Dietrich Mateschitz.
"It was an isolated incident and somebody made the decision without the appropriate people knowing," Frye said. "These people are good veteran guys. They should have known better. They just made a poor decision.
"There's too much at risk and NASCAR has very much of a zero tolerance on these cars. We know that."
Frye said the sheet metal was not dipped in acid as originally reported, but it simply was a thinner grade that he estimated lightened the car by two or three pounds.
He said procedures are being put in place to make sure such an incident doesn't happen again.
"This team has a high level of checks and balances throughout the company," he said. "We learned this is another one we've got to go through.
"We had a meeting with the entire company and we talked about internal policing in that if you, as an employee, you see something going on that is not right, you need to go to your direct supervisor. If you don't get the answer you need at that level, go to the next level. If that doesn't work, come to me."
Frye said NASCAR has given no indication of whether the suspensions will spill over into next season. And while he sees the suspensions as a setback, he is confident interim crew chief Randy Cox will fill in nicely.
"He was Brian's crew chief before this year," Frye said. "We have a good program. If you removed a few people short-term wise, it shouldn't slow the program down."
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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