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Chase Briscoe and his No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team received one of the largest penalties in NASCAR history Wednesday afternoon after NASCAR officials discovered what they said was a counterfeit part on the car. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The No. 14, which was taken back to NASCAR’s R&D Center as part of a standard post-race procedure on Monday, was found to have a counterfeit engine panel duct. Modifying the duct, which is supposed to help with cooling, could help a team create more downforce on their car (and thus go faster).
  • NASCAR docked Briscoe and his team 120 driver/owner points, 25 playoff points (the number someone would get for winning five races) and suspended crew chief Johnny Klausmeier for six weeks. NASCAR also issued a monetary fine of $250,000, which is believed to be the second-largest in history (Michael Waltrip Racing received a $300,000 fine for manipulating the 2013 Richmond race).
  • Briscoe drops from 17th in the point standings — just four points out of a playoff spot — to 31st. Briscoe must now win one of the final 12 regular season races or will miss the playoffs.

The Athletic’s instant analysis:

How this impacts Briscoe’s season

After making the playoffs in 2022, Briscoe and Stewart-Haas Racing have struggled through the first part of this season. Even while using this illegal part at Charlotte, Briscoe was never in contention and finished 20th. Neither Briscoe nor his three SHR teammates have won a race this year, though Kevin Harvick is at least fourth in the standings.

That said, Briscoe was still doing well enough to be a playoff bubble driver until this penalty. Now, Briscoe’s playoff hopes are largely extinct, and even if he wins a race to qualify for the 16-driver field, Briscoe currently has negative playoff points — which means he’ll be in a significant hole as soon as the first round begins. — Gluck

What is the difference between a modified and counterfeit part?

NASCAR’s Elton Sawyer drew a sharp distinction between this penalty and others we’ve seen in the Next Gen car era. Every team is required to purchase their parts from the same supplier to try and create a level playing field, but some teams have been caught modifying those parts. However, Briscoe’s team went beyond that and created a counterfeit part to pass off as the real thing. Inspectors only caught the infraction when they used a template and realized the opening in the duct was smaller than it should have been.

“When you counterfeit a part, it falls into a (category) with engines and messing with tires and fuel — (things) you know are just not going to be tolerated,” Sawyer said. — Gluck

Are these penalties a big enough deterrent against cheating?

NASCAR catching teams modifying or counterfeiting parts to the Next Gen car is starting to occur with more regularity. Obviously, this is a good thing as the Next Gen car was designed so that teams across the board would have access to the same parts and pieces. However, with an increase in such violations, it’s fair to wonder whether NASCAR should respond by significantly upping the penalties levied against a team.

That Briscoe’s team was hit pretty hard Wednesday, harder than any team previously for a similar offense, was a good first step, but NASCAR shouldn’t hesitate to come down even harder — especially when it involves manufacturing a counterfeit part. — Bianchi

Will we see more penalties like this?

Teams have been working with the Next Gen car for nearly a year‐and‐a‐half so it’s no surprise that the more familiarity they have with the car, the more they’re going to learn where they may be able to play in the gray area regarding what’s legal and what’s not. That’s just part of the cat‐and‐mouse game that goes on between NASCAR and its teams. It’s always been this way, it will always be this way. Therefore, it’s important that NASCAR strictly punish an offending team, and why penalties such as this one may be commonplace. — Bianchi

Required reading

(Photo: James Gilbert / Getty Images)



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