Hyder given indefinite leave on top of suspension

Updated: February 18, 2007, 1:17 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Crew chief David Hyder has been given an indefinite leave of absence with pay from Michael Waltrip Racing on top of his indefinite suspension by NASCAR.

Daytona 500 penalties at a glance
 Nextel
Crew chiefs suspended:
• David Hyder (Michael Waltrip; indefinitely)
• Robbie Reiser (Matt Kenseth; 4 races)
• Kenny Francis (Kasey Kahne; 4 races)
• Rodney Childers (Scott Riggs; 2 races)
• Josh Browne (Elliott Sadler; 2 races)

Driver penalties:
• Waltrip (100 points)
• Kenseth (50 points)
• Kahne (50 points)
• Riggs (25 points)
• Sadler (25 points)

Owner penalties:
• Buffy Waltrip (100 owner points)
• Ray Evernham (75 owner points)
• Jack Roush (50 owner points)
• Jim Rocco (25 points)

Fines:
• Hyder fined $100K
• Reiser, Francis fined $50K each
• Childers, Browne fined $25K each

Ty Norris, the general manager of MWR, said Hyder will not be allowed at the shop until it is determined if he had anything to do with the foreign substance that was found in Waltrip's engine during pre-qualifying inspection for Sunday's Daytona 500.

NASCAR suspended Hyder and competition director Bobby Kennedy indefinitely. Hyder also was fined $100,000 and Waltrip was penalized 100 championship points.

A source close to the situation told ESPN.com on Wednesday that Hyder eventually will be fired. 'We just have to get to the bottom of it, and he's a huge part of it," Norris said of Hyder. "I talked to him Saturday night for an hour. We went through the step-by-step process trying to figure out at anytime where something might have gotten in [the fuel]."

Norris said Kennedy will remain an active part of the organization, but added that one other member of the traveling team has been given a leave of absence.

"NASCAR didn't ask," Norris said of the other employee that he would not identify. "We're probably going to change that this week. That was like a university sending somebody home instead of the NCAA."

Norris said Kennedy remains confused on why he was ejected from Daytona International Speedway.

"As it was explained to me, he's the director of competition and this has happened under your watch and you have to take partial responsibility until we find out who, what, where and why," Norris said.

Kennedy addressed all employees at MWR in Cornelius, N.C., on Friday about the repercussions of cheating.

Norris said he and Waltrip will address the entire organization on Monday to re-emphasize there is a zero tolerance policy on cheating. "Lilly white, don't even think about it," Norris said. "The strongest message we know on all fronts is that we have a lot to gain by sticking together and a lot to lose by trying to circumvent anything.

"We'd rather do it straight up or not do it at all."

Waltrip spent three hours on Sunday morning at sponsor appearances. He and other members of the organization have a meeting with Toyota officials that was scheduled before the sanctions on Wednesday in California.

Norris said none of the meetings have been easy. "But when you're responsible for all of this you can't just take the good," he said. "You've got to take the bad. We have to be, as we are, confused and humble about the situation."

Norris said MWR continues to cooperate with NASCAR in the investigation to determine how the substance got into the engine.

"They've been through the engine, they've torn everything apart and sent it all back to the lab to see where the traces are," he said. "We thought for two days it was something wiped into the manifold and everyone ran around and said it was a Sterno substance.

"Then it was fuel related. Then it was in the fuel cell. Then it wasn't in the cell. Confusion continues to escalate."

NASCAR officials will not release the name of the substance, treating it as they would a failed drug test in which the name of the drug is not revealed.

"It's nobody's business what it is," said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president for competition. "The bottom line is it's a foreign substance in the intake manifold."

Norris said he knows what the substance does and that it likely was in the fuel.

"The question is what it is, how it got there and what all the other remnants are that showed up in the manifold," he said. "It's all speculation. Basically, we just don't know."

David Newton covers Nextel Cup for ESPN.com.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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