DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – NASCAR competition officials slammed four teams with major penalties on Wednesday for manipulation of the results of the recent Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The Premium Motorsports Nos. 15 and 27, as well as the Rick Ware Racing No. 52 and the Spire Motorsports No. 77, were all docked 50 owner points for their roles in altering the finish. Team owners Jay Robinson, Rick Ware and T.J. Puchyr were each fined $50,000.
In addition, competition directors Scott Eggleston (Premium) and Kenneth Evans (Rick Ware Racing) have been indefinitely suspended from NASCAR and fined $25,000 apiece.
“Following a thorough review of race data and driver and team communication from the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, as well as interviews with several competitors, NASCAR has determined that the Nos. 15, 27, 52 and 77 teams have violated Sections 12.8.g and 12.8.1 of the NASCAR rule book, which addresses manipulating the outcome of a race,” Miller said in a prepared statement. “As a result, those teams in violation of the rule book have been penalized as listed in the penalty report.”
Held Nov. 17, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series finale saw the Premium No. 15 of Joe Nemechek, the Spire No. 77 of Reed Sorenson and the Rick Ware Racing No. 52 of Josh Bilicki all fall out of the event within 15 laps of one another.
As a result, the 35th-finishing Premium No. 27 driven by Ross Chastain secured a one-point advantage in the final season standings over the Gaunt Brothers Racing No. 96, making the No. 27 the top-ranked open, non-chartered team for the year in the NASCAR Cup Series.
That distinction carries with it half of the unclaimed purse money in the event of a short field, making for a sizable monetary jump for the highest open team in the final points.
The assessed penalties now make the Gaunt Brothers No. 96 the top open team in 2019.
Spire Motorsports confirmed quickly on Wednesday they would not be appealing the penalties issued by NASCAR’s competition department.
“Following the season finale at Homestead Miami Speedway, NASCAR assessed a penalty against Spire Motorsports for the actions of an individual who made a judgment call on behalf of our team. While the ultimate outcome of that decision can be interpreted from different perspectives, we regret any appearance of operating outside the spirit of the rule book,” said Spire Motorsports co-owners Jeff Dickerson and Puchyr in a joint statement. “We accept the penalty and will not appeal.
“We’re proud of all we accomplished with this team in our first season and look forward to getting back to the business of racing at Daytona in February.”
Prior to Homestead, the most recent high-profile case of race manipulation was in September of 2013, when Michael Waltrip Racing altered the results of the regular-season finale at Richmond (Va.) Raceway in an effort to get Martin Truex Jr. into the playoffs.
Waltrip’s team was fined $300,000 and Truex was removed from the playoffs in the fallout.