NASCAR WCUP: Mayfield, Kranefuss and Sospenzo Handed Penalties by NASCAR
2 May 2000By David Treffer
Their is a ages old saying in NASCAR, "It ain't cheatin' unless you get caught." Well guess what, one of the Winston Cup teams was caught cheating. The rumors swirling around the #12 Mobil One Ford team have been loud and persistent since the April 16th race at Talladega. The team which is owned by Michael Kranefuss, managed by Peter Sospenzo and has Jeremy Mayfield behind the wheel was hit with penalties today by NASCAR. The penalties were not handed down until scientific analysis proved that a "fuel additive" had been introduced into the fuel during the last pit-stop at Talladega.
NASCAR was fair and balanced in their penalty assessment. The Winston Cup Series rule that was broken was "the use of altered fuel or fuel other than the official fuel at the event." For their infractions the team was penalized in the following ways: Mayfield was stripped of 151 points in the driver's standings. Team owner Michael Kranefuss was fined $50,000 and stripped of 151 points in the owner's standings. Crew chief Peter Sospenzo was suspended until June 6th. Considering that the team could have been suspended from competition for the remainder of the year the penalties were rather light.
NASCAR Senior Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer Mike Helton commented on the investiagation and subsequent penalties. "Through a routine post-race fuel sampling, we found a foreign substance in the fuel of the No.12 car following the race at Talladega. We took several fuel samples, and the sample from the No.12 car read consistently different than that sample that was taked from our fuel source on site." The analysis of the fuel was performed by an outside laboratory to insure that a third party was involved in the findings.
The ironic item about this entire episode is that Mayfield's performance on the track at Talladega was not enhanced. Entering the pits in fourth place during the last round of pit-stops, Mayfield finished in 14th place which is exactly where he is currently listed in the NASCARWinston Cup points after being stripped of 151 points.
The blame for the induced substance was placed squarely on the shoulders of a unidentified crew member. Perhaps this crew member thought he was doing Mayfield a favor then again he may have been acting on orders from someone higher up in the team. The truth will eventually come out but it may be a few more weeks before that happens.