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NASCAR fines 18 teams

By KEVIN KELLY

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 13, 2001


DAYTONA BEACH -- Trying to send a message that cheating will not go unpunished, NASCAR fined 18 Winston Cup teams a total of $40,500 and suspended two crew chiefs for four races.

"There's a story behind every one of these," Winston Cup director Gary Nelson said Monday. "I heard them all today."

The penalties against Tony Furr, crew chief for Jerry Nadeau, were the toughest of the 24 levied.

He received a four-race suspension, which will start next week at North Carolina Speedway, was fined $10,000 for illegal roof height and $2,500 for fuel-cell violations.

Furr, who was fined $50,000 by NASCAR in 1997 while working for Cale Yarborough's team, is on probation for the balance of the season.

His penalties stemmed from Nadeau's car being more than one-half inch lower than allowed after qualifying Saturday.

Track workers alerted NASCAR to a small metal piece found on the track after Nadeau's qualifying laps. The piece, which fit in the rear jack screw, was designed to hold the car up for pre-qualifying inspection and then fall out and lower the car as Nadeau drove around the track.

"We went to the crew and said, "What were you thinking?" said Nelson, who is in charge of NASCAR's technical staff. "We did not get an answer. So we went ahead with our penalties."

Nadeau, who qualified second Saturday, was disqualified and forced to requalify Monday. Nadeau will start 26th in one of the 125-mile qualifying races Thursday. He must finish 15th or better to guarantee a Daytona 500 starting position.

"Daytona is one of those race tracks that everybody is going to try and do everything," Nadeau said earlier in the day. "It's just that ours got caught during qualifying. ... It's a shame, but we've just got to face up to it, pay the fine and move on."

Kevin Cramm, Chip Ganassi racing crew chief for rookie Jason Leffler, was docked $10,000 and suspended four races for an illegal fuel additive. Like Nadeau, Leffler's original qualifying speed was disallowed.

Gary DeHart, crew chief for Terry Labonte, was fined $6,000 for an illegal air deflector and fuel cell. Among the 15 other violators was Mike Ford, crew chief for Daytona 500 pole winner Bill Elliott. Ford was fined $2,500 for a thin control arm.

TV FALLOUT: Representatives from Fox and NASCAR met to discuss the exclusion of certain sponsor logos on graphics during Sunday's broadcast of the Budweiser Shootout.

Sponsors for all but a handful of teams were excluded in graphical representations of the cars. Dodge, Home Depot, Kellogg's, Texaco and Budweiser were among the logos included.

Lou D'Ermilio, vice president of communications for Fox, said that is part of an advertising package. He did not reveal how much those packages cost.

"It's called an enhancement," D'Ermilio said. "It's part of their package. We say, "Purchase package X and we'll give you this.' "

John Griffin, NASCAR managing director of communications, said NASCAR was "caught off guard" when logos weren't included. "We've been with Fox (Monday), and we're going to get right back with them (today)," Griffin said. "There's no dragging our feet."

ODDS AND ENDS: The Budweiser Shootout received a 4.2 overnight rating and 19 share, its best TV rating since 1998. ... Brett Bodine, the only full-time owner/driver in Winston Cup, was the quickest of eight second-round qualifiers with a lap of 180.941 mph.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "It was big, buddy. For a 21-year-old kid coming in here, who didn't even know what a superspeedway was except Darlington, it was awesome." -- Seven-time Winston Cup champion Richard Petty on what it was like to visit Daytona International Speedway for the first time in 1959.

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