Monday, March 4, 2024

Chase Briscoe docked 120 points for counterfeit part

Chase Briscoe‘s difficult 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season just got way worse. Due to an L3-level penalty for counterfeiting a NACA duct, he has been penalised 120 driver points and 25 playoff points, while also losing his crew chief Johnny Klausmeier for six races and fined $250,000. The penalty is one of the largest handed down by NASCAR in its history.

The NACA duct, named after and designed by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (predecessor to NASA), is an air inlet intended help air flow through without disrupting flow. While its roots are in the aerospace field, such ducts are also used as hood scoops in automobiles. NASCAR introduced the duct in 2021 to help reduce cockpit temperatures by making the transmission tunnel cooler, but the ducts can also be manipulated to adjust downforce.

Since the Next Gen’s début in 2022, the NACA duct is supplied by a single vendor classified NG72841. Under Section 14.6.3.B of the rulebook, “The engine panel NACA duct (NG72841) must be used and must remain unobstructed.”

Single-vendor parts are already not allowed to be modified by teams, which can result in hefty points penalties such as the 100 initially levied upon Hendrick Motorsports and Kaulig Racing in April for louver violations before being overturned, but the sanctioning body takes even greater issue if teams were to attempt to replicate the components themselves. As a result, Briscoe’s penalty is significantly harsher than the aforementioned.

After finishing twentieth in Monday’s Coca-Cola 600, Briscoe’s #14 was taken to NASCAR’s Research & Development Center for further inspection where they discovered the opening in the duct was smaller than usual. Stewart-Haas Racing competition team director Greg Zipadelli conceded it was a “quality control lapse” and the team will not appeal the ruling.

With the penalty, Briscoe falls from seventeenth in the standings and four points below the cut line to thirty-first and the third worst full-time driver.