NASCAR came down hard on Sprint Cup points leader Carl Edwards yesterday, docking the No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing driver 100 driver points and the team a further 100 owner's points when his Ford Fusion failed a post-race inspection at Las Vegas Motor Speedway after the UAW Dodge 400.
Edwards, who won the race, will be allowed to keep the win but, if he makes the Chase for the Championship, he will not be allowed to keep the 10 bonus points that go with it.
The No. 99 team was found to have a missing oil tank cover, which more than one of his competitors complained gave the car additional downforce.
There was no surprise to the severity of the penalty. NASCAR bosses had made it clear at the start of the season there would be no grey areas when doling out discipline.
Earlier this year, NASCAR suspended several Nationwide crew chiefs for having loose oil tank covers.
The points penalty drops Edwards from first to seventh in the Sprint Cup race and moves Kyle Busch and the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to the top.
Besides the points hit, NASCAR also fined crew chief Bob Osborne $100,000, and suspended him from the next six Sprint Cup Series events.
Roush Fenway is expected to appeal both the loss of points and fine.
Carpentier's new colours
Gillett Evernham Motorsports will pull its long-time Valvoline sponsorship from Patrick Carpentier's No. 10 Dodge at Atlanta, switching it to Robby Gordon's No. 7 Dodge.
Carpentier, who made his season debut last week in Las Vegas in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series, will carry the colours of the corporate uniform giant Cintas on his car.
It should not be assumed, however, that the move was any kind of judgement on Carpentier's ability to get the job done for the No. 10 GEM team.
In fact, George Gillett Jr. -- the team's majority owner -- heaped praise on the Joliette, Que., native in a conference call earlier in the week.
"He's the real thing and we're proud of him -- he's a great guy, the sponsors love him, and our fans love him -- we're very pleased with that relationship," Gillett said.
He also indicated that he is close to signing a deal that will see a new sponsor for the No. 10 Dodge for the rest of the 2008 season.
Toronto quiet in 2008
Toronto Grand Prix boss Charlie Johnstone finally threw in the towel yesterday on staging the event in 2008.
The end of the Champ Car World Series posed a scheduling dilemma for the Toronto GP with the IndyCar racing series already locked into its July 4-6 date at New York's Watkins Glen International, but Johnstone had held out hope that another summer date could be found suitable to the Toronto GP, the IRL and the Exhibition Place race site.
"We received an impressive show of support from IRL, Exhibition Place, the city of Toronto and numerous partners," Johnstone said. "Unfortunately, we ran out of options and time for 2008. That doesn't mean the future is bleak, but we'll need a co-ordinated effort among the city, province, IRL, sponsors and partners, sooner rather than later."
He said that he already has begun putting a plan in place to host a race in 2009.
The end of the Toronto GP this year leaves the Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton as the only Canadian stop on the IRL schedule this season.
Not so Super Aguri
Although reports have surfaced in the past few days that the Formula One Super Aguri team had found new investors, there still is doubt that the Honda-powered outfit will be able to pull it all together in time for next week's season opening Australian Grand Prix.
The team's drivers -- Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson -- have had only a limited amount of testing this past winter and team principal Aguri Suzuki has been in Japan urging Honda to keep its engine and chassis pipeline to the squad open.
German racing magazine Auto Motor claims that Magma Group -- a British consulting firm -- has pledged enough financial backing to get the team through the Australian race.
"Everything is progressing in the right direction," Suzuki said. "The team are preparing the SA-08A to be ready for the Australian Grand Prix. They are working day and night, as has become a very established tradition in Super Aguri's short but exciting existence."