Stewart, Logano each docked 150 points; seven JGR members suspended

Updated: August 20, 2008, 7:32 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Seven team members of Joe Gibbs Racing have been indefinitely suspended from NASCAR after an attempt to distort engine power in a dynamometer test following Saturday's Nationwide Series race at Michigan International Speedway.

"In this particular case, the rule violation was serious and was attempting to interfere with our ability to conduct an accurate post-race competitive analysis," NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said. "It called for a serious reaction on our part and we think the penalty speaks to that."

Tony Stewart, who drove the No. 20 car at Michigan, and Joey Logano in the 18 were docked 150 championship points and placed on probation through the end of this year. Team owner Joe Gibbs also was penalized 150 points on both of the entries.

"We want to apologize to NASCAR, all of our partners, all of our families at JGR, and all of our fans for the unfortunate incident that took place this past weekend in Michigan with our two Nationwide teams," Gibbs said in a statement. "A poor decision was made by some key members of our organization, and 100 percent of the blame rests with us."

Crew chiefs Jason Ratcliff of the No. 18 and Dave Rogers of the No. 20 have been fined $50,000 each and indefinitely suspended from NASCAR duties, while Dorian Thorsen, engine tuner Michael Johnson and crew member Toby Bigelow of the 18 also were placed on indefinite suspension.

NASCAR Puts Hammer To JGR

• Suspended Jason Ratcliff, crew chief of the No. 18 car, and Dave Rogers, crew chief of the No. 20, indefinitely and fined them $50,000 each.

• Suspended No. 18 car chief Dorian Thorsen, engine tuner Michael Johnson and crew member Toby Bigelow and No. 20 car chief Richard Bray and engine tuner Dan Bajek indefinitely.

• Docked 150 Nationwide driver points from Tony Stewart and Joey Logano.

• Docked 150 Nationwide owner points from Joe Gibbs for both cars.

• Placed the entire teams, including both drivers, on probation through Dec. 31.

-- Associated Press
From the No. 20 team, car chief Richard Bray and engine tuner Dan Bajek have been indefinitely suspended.

Both teams have been placed on probation through the end of the year. The penalties are unprecedented for the Nationwide Series.

Gibbs said he would not appeal the penalties and indicated he would also personally fine the crew members involved and suspend them through the end of the season.

NASCAR determined after the race that a magnetic spacer was attached under the gas pedal of both cars for the intent of compromising the chassis dyno test.

The infraction came several weeks after NASCAR ordered that all Toyotas use a smaller spacer that would knock about 15 horsepower from their engines.

"In 17 years we have never had any representative of Joe Gibbs Racing knowingly act outside of NASCAR's rules, and that is something we consider essential to how we operate on a daily basis," Gibbs said. "What we have determined is that these individuals involved used extremely poor judgment in attempting to alter the results of NASCAR's dyno test following Saturday's Nationwide Series race in Michigan.

"Although in no way was anything done that might have altered the race outcome, these JGR employees attempted to circumvent the NASCAR rule book and that is unacceptable."

Toyota had won 14 of 21 races, all but one in a Camry fielded by JGR, before the mandate. It won the first race after the cutback with Kyle Busch at Indianapolis.

The 20 car was first in owner points, 318 ahead of the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing car before the penalty. The 18, running a part-time schedule, was 27th in points.

JGR president J.D. Gibbs had several meetings with NASCAR about the decision. He argued that the engines were legal and that the team was being penalized for working hard to generate more horsepower than the competition.

Other owners argued that the Toyota engine design allowed for more horsepower than the engines of Chevrolet, Dodge and Ford would allow.

Gibbs made it clear he had no knowledge of the attempt to alter the results of the dynamometer test and that the organization would take its own action against the guilty parties after an internal investigation was complete.

In a statement released by JGR later Wednesday, Ratcliff and Rogers, the crew chiefs, apologized for their actions.

"Joe and J.D. Gibbs trust me to lead this race team with honesty and integrity. I have failed them and feel great remorse for doing so," Rogers said. "I accept the penalties imposed by NASCAR and Joe Gibbs Racing and make no excuses."

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.

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ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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