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NASCAR SPECIAL: Penske-Kranefuss, Mayfield and Sospenzo all fined for fuel infraction

2 May 2000

By Terry Callahan
Motorsports Editor, The Auto Channel

NEW ORLEANS, LA: Penske-Kranefuss racing was slapped with the second-largest fine in the history of NASCAR Tuesday. The fine was a result of a fuel infraction discovered at the conclusion of the Winston Cup race at Talladega on April 16, 2000.

The penalties were assessed across the entire Penske-Kranefuss Racing team. Officials took away 151 championship points from driver Jeremy Mayfield. Owner Michael Kranefuss and co-owner Roger Penske were fined a combined $50,000. Peter Sospenzo, the crew chief, was given a suspension until June 6, effective immediately.

"Mistakes were made and there were certainly some grave errors in judgment," Kranefuss said. "We will make sure nothing like this will ever happen again. We will continue to work to put the best possible race car on the track each week within the rules."

According to Mike Helton, the chief operating officer of NASCAR, a foreign substance was found in the fuel samples taken from the car after the Talladega race. NASCAR routinely makes spot checks on fuel, engines, and other parts to keep the teams "honest."

The fuel for all competitors should read the same in lab tests since it is provided by one supplier . . . Unocal.

"The sample from the No. 12 read consistently different than the sample that was taken from our fuel source on the site," Helton said.

"It is up to NASCAR to ensure that the competitors in the garage area know that everyone is playing on a level playing field," Helton said in closing.

In addition to the fines assigned by NASCAR, Penske-Kranefuss Racing has taken disciplinary action within the team. Kranefuss also apologized to the other racing teams in NASCAR's to racing series. He apologized to fans and sponsors as well.

"We're all embarrassed and we're all going to make sure nothing like this happens again. Everything we've accomplished so far we've accomplished within the rules," Kranefuss concluded.

Mayfield won the most recent race at the California Speedway. The win placed him seventh in the Winston Cup point standings. Tuesday's action moved Mayfield back down to 14th place in the 2000 standings.

Mayfield finished in 14th place at Talladega using the illegal fuel mixture. The fuel from his winning car in California met specifications. He failed to meet the minimum car height requirement of 55 inches after the California race. In his jubilation, Mayfield jumped on top of his racecar, causing his roof to be "out of spec." No fines are expected for that infraction.

Ray Evernham, crew chief for the Winston Cup Championship car driven by Jeff Gordon, received the largest fine in history after a race during the 1995 season. Evernham was fined $60,000 for the use of a suspension part that did not meet NASCAR specifications.

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