NASCAR penalizes four teams for race manipulation at Homestead

NASCAR officials issued substantial penalties Wednesday to Premium Motorsports, Rick Ware Racing and Spire Motorsports for manipulating the results of the season-ending Monster Energy Series Cup race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Scott Miller, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition, said that four teams were docked 50 points from the 2019 team owner standings for their role in altering the finishing order of the Ford EcoBoost 400 on Nov. 17. Suspensions and fines were also included in the punishment.

“Following a thorough review of race data and driver/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 statement. “As a result, those teams in violation of the rule book have been penalized as listed in the penalty report.”

According to reports, the team’s conspired to help one of Robinson’s teams finish the highest among unchartered teams and collect the largest postseason bonus for that group.

Premium Motorsports was looking to finish highest in points among non-charter teams. Charter teams get a guaranteed starting spot in each race. The Premium No. 15 of Joe Nemechek, the Spire No. 77 of Reed Sorenson and the Rick Ware Racing No. 52 driven by Josh Bilicki all retired from the race during a 15-lap period due to mechanical problems.

Those retirements allowed Premium Motorsports to finish highest in the standings among non-charter teams. The No. 27 driven by Ross Chastain secured that achievement by just a single point.

NASCAR fined car owners Jay Robinson (Premium Motorsports), Rick Ware (Rick Ware Racing) and TJ Puchyr (Spire Motorsports) $50,000 each, along with other penalties to their teams, for manipulating the outcome of the Cup season finale in Miami.

NASCAR also issued the following penalties related to this infraction:

Docked the No. 15 car of Premium Motorsports 50 team owner points, fined competition director Scott Eggleston $25,000 and suspended him indefinitely.

Penalized the No. 27 car of Premium Motorsports 50 team owner points.

Docked the No. 52 car of Rick Ware Racing 50 team owner points, fined competition director Kenneth Evans $25,000 and suspended him indefinitely.

Penalized the No. 77 team 50 team owner points and fined competition director Scott Eggleston $25,000 on top of the fine he received for his position with the No. 15 car.

Spire Motorsports co-owners Puchyr and Jeff Dickerson released a statement later Wednesday saying the organization would not appeal the penalties.

“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,” the Spire statement read. “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. 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.”

The most recent high-profile instance of race manipulation came in September 2013, when NASCAR officials ruled that Michael Waltrip Racing had tampered with the results of the regular-season finale at Richmond Raceway. Waltrip’s organization was fined $300,000 and Martin Truex Jr., then its top driver, was removed from the playoff picture.

Greg Engle