NASCAR WCUP: Gordon loses points, money for illegal part used at Richmond; Appeal filed
13 September 2000By Terry Callahan
Motorsports Editor, The Auto Channel
"It just upsets me because this team worked hard for that win in Richmond and I believe these allegations that we cheated will undeservedly overshadow that victory," Gordon said.
Specifically, the intake manifold on the number 24 DuPont Chevrolet was the part determined to be illegal according to NASCAR. It is deemed illegal because NASCAR has not approved it. The discrepancy was found during a routing post race inspection of the winning car.
Mike Helton, the chief operating officer of NASCAR said in a statement, "The General Motors intake manifold that the No. 24 team used during Saturday night's race in Richmond has not been approved. The GM part number on the casting was the same, however, a different material was used, which altered the properties of the casting." Helton continued, "The changed casting was resubmitted by GM for NASCAR's approval in accordance with our procedures."
The saga in not over. Rick Hendrick, team owner for Jeff Gordon, stated Tuesday that he will appeal the ruling. He believes the team did nothing wrong. The part was an ordered part from a supplier and no changes were made.
"Not only do we feel a full hearing on the facts will exonerate our team from any intentional wrongdoing, but it will remove any cloud of suspicion cast over a great victory," Hendrick concluded
"We were under the impression NASCAR officials have been aware of the use of magnesium in intake manifolds for several months and had indicted to GM that it was approved as long as the part was not altered in any other way," Hendrick said in his statement. "There was no attempt to conceal the part, which we have been running since April. It also passed inspection in Charlotte for two of our cars."
General Motors racing suppliers are also defending the use of the part. They have supplied the same part to several teams and no action has been taken against them. Doug Duchardt, who is General Motors' manager for NASCAR also spoke out on Tuesday that said in part, "We supplied these magnesium intake manifolds to our teams in the clear belief that they are allowed under the rules. They are identical in shape and dimensions to the comparable aluminum manifold, produce no increase in horsepower and NASCAR has, on many occasions, permitted changes in materials There is no mention of materials in the rule on intake manifolds."
Gordon earned his 52nd victory Saturday night at Richmond. The win remains in the record books, but the points and the money have been taken for the team, pending the outcome of the appeal process.