Hyder suspended indefinitely before Daytona 500 qualifying

Updated: May 19, 2007, 1:01 AM ET
By David Newtwon and Angelique S. Chengelis | ESPN.com

CONCORD, N.C. -- NASCAR will lift the indefinite suspensions of crew chief David Hyder and competition director Bobby Kennedy on May 30, NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said on Friday.

Hyder and Kennedy were suspended when NASCAR discovered an unidentified substance in the engine of Michael Waltrip's car before qualifying for the Daytona 500 in February.

Both were escorted from the facility and have not been to a track since.

Hyder was fired last month before the race at Talladega Superspeedway.

"Bobby got booted by association," Waltrip said Friday at Lowe's Motor Speedway. "He was supposed to oversee all of the cars and the 55 was the one found to be outside of the rules. It took us a little while to understand what to do. It's such a devastating blow, and we just decided to end the association [with Hyder].

"Bobby has been with me for seven or eight years, and we've never gotten into any trouble for anything. I don't know Hyder and I know Bobby. Bobby has never had that type of personality, and ultimately the crew chief is responsible for the car as NASCAR so eloquently pointed out last week."

Waltrip said Kennedy's role has been redefined and he's not sure what the new role will be.

Waltrip, who met with NASCAR officials again last week, hopes this brings closure to ordeal.

"They told us what was found in the intake was obviously a substance that was put there on purpose to enhance performance, and it had to be done by someone inside our company or inside our circle," Waltrip said.

"I don't want to single out Hyder. I do want to say that a couple of the guys who came with him are no longer employed by us."

More bad luck

On a normal weekend Waltrip would be headed home for the 11th straight week after crashing during qualifying for Saturday night's Nextel Open.

But because everybody is guaranteed a spot in the field,Waltrip will be in the preliminary to the Nextel All-Star Challenge.

Waltrip hasn't qualified for a race since the opener at Daytona, where the field was set by two 150-mile qualifying races and not speed.

Please pay

Crew chief Tony Eury Jr. doesn't expect to win his appeal of the $100,000 fine and six-race suspension passed out by NASCAR last weekend at Darlington.

But he does expect somebody other than him to pay the fine.

"I'll go work for Home Depot before I pay it," he said.

The appeal, which includes the 100 driver points docked to Dale Earnhardt Jr. and 100 owner points docked to Teresa Earnhardt, will be heard on Wednesday.

It was filed immediately after NASCAR announced the fine for an illegal wing bracket mount on Earnhardt's car.

Eury is so sure the penalties will be upheld that he's planned fishing trips for the next few weekends.

But Eury remained adamant that the violation was an honest mistake, not a blatant attempt to circumvent the rules as NASCAR officials said.

Eury and director of motorsports Richie Gilmore said the bracket mistakenly was taken off a test car during the rush between Darlington and a test at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

Eury acknowledged the bracket had been altered with additional holes to differentiate more extreme angles on the wing for a wind tunnel test.

NASCAR officials did not buy the excuse and issued the penalty teams were told they would get in a March 21 technical bulletin.

The points deduction dropped Earnhardt from 12th to 14th in the standings. Only the top 12 teams earn a spot in the championship chase.

"When you start taking cars out of championship contention and doing things like that . . . I know why they're doing it to make a statement," Gilmore said. "It's not like we deliberately were cheating in an area that they haven't inspected."

That the car passed pre- and post-qualifying inspection and wasn't found in violation until pre-race inspection is a point Gilmore plans to bring before the appeal commission.

"I just wish the punishment fit the crime," he said.

Car owner Ray Evernham, who disputed stiff penalties against all three of his teams at the Daytona 500, said Earnhardt's team got what it deserved.

"That's a black-and-white rule," he said. "There was a bulletin that went out and said what the penalty was going to be on that. If there's a black-and-white rule and you violate it, you'll never hear me complain."

Dodge update

Evernham said the announced sale of Chrysler to Cerberus Capital Management could be a good thing for Dodge Motorsports.

He said a meeting with corporate officials two days before the deal was announced was one of the best he's had.

"I think they're going to relocate some funds and put 'em in the right place," Evernham said. "I believe these people that are buying this understand the importance of NASCAR. Certainly if they don't, they'll get educated on it.

"We'll have to wait and see if all that stuff happens, but the bottom line is I think they know what they need to do and I think they're doing it. And this company coming in may allow them to have a little bit more freedom than what they've had."

Clean shaven

Earnhardt arrived at LMS without the beard he's been sporting the past few weeks.

"I had to do my ESPN glamour shots this morning," he said. "They are televising the races, I reckon. My mama said I could keep it if I wanted, but I had my fun."

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com. Angelique S. Chengelis is a contributor to ESPN's NASCAR coverage.

Angelique S. Chengelis is a contributor to ESPN's NASCAR coverage.