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Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Front Row crew members suspended

Associated Press

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- NASCAR levied stiff fines against Front Row Motorsports on Wednesday for using illegal valve stem caps on Travis Kvapil's car last weekend at Pocono Raceway.

Crew chief Steve Lane was fined $100,000 and suspended for 12 weeks along with car chief Richard Bourgeois and tire specialist Michael Harrold. Kvapil and car owner Doug Yates were both docked 150 points each.

The points deductions knocked the car out of the top 35 in owner standings, which means Kvapil is not guaranteed a starting spot in Sunday's field at Michigan International Speedway. The car dropped from 32nd to 36th in the standings, and is now 66 points behind Robby Gordon.

Gordon, whose car failed to qualify at Pocono last week, is now ensured a spot in Sunday's race.

Team co-owner Bob Jenkins took responsibility for the "unintentional" mistake and plans to appeal the penalty. The violation was discovered following a rain delay in Sunday's race. Kvapil's rear tires were almost flat, and NASCAR discovered that the valve stem caps on the tires had been altered to allow air to gradually leak out -- an act that would help the car with its speed during a long run.

"We take the rules of this sport very seriously, and we support NASCAR in its enforcement of those rules," team owner Bob Jenkins said. "It was not our intent to put unapproved valve stem caps on our car at Pocono, a track where such a maneuver would clearly not provide any advantage. We are conducting our own internal investigation to determine how those parts got into our inventory and onto our car last weekend.

"While we recognize we have to pay for our mistake, this was an unintentional, isolated incident."

Front Row also fields cars for David Gilliland and Kevin Conway, who are both currently inside the top 35 in owner standings.

Jenkins said team officials met with NASCAR following the race and again on Monday to discuss the incident.

"I can't speak for NASCAR, but I think they were relatively convinced there was no malice in this, there was really no intent to cheat," he said. "However, the point is not lost in all this, at the end of the day, there were illegal valve caps on our car. So the questions we had to ask are, where did those valve caps come from and how did they get on our car?"

Jenkins said the team is conducting an internal investigation to determine how the caps ended up on Kvapil's car. He speculated they could have been provided through inventory the first-year team acquired from other organizations, or at the track.

"Shame on us because we didn't have a quality control in place to be able to trace this lot of product," he said.