NASCAR officials confiscate two cars before first practice

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR STAFF
mbirchfield@starhq.com

   BRISTOL--NASCAR Nextel Cup officials confiscated two cars this past weekend before the start of the first session of practice took place on Friday.
   The cars of Jamie McMurray and Larry Foyt were found not to be within the guidelines of NASCAR rules, which officials decided were unfixable in the time they allowed.
   "Both cars have exceeded specifications of the NASCAR rule book in regards to body dimension and template fit," said Nextel Cup Director Mike Darby. "They've exceeded in areas that can't be fixed in a timely manner at the race track."
   The Texaco/Havoline #42 Dodge of McMurray didn't meet the standards in the cross measurements of the back window.
   "The X of measurement was slightly out of tolerance," said Gnassi Team Manager Andy Graves. "It was out 3/8 of an inch. It makes no difference whatsoever, but they made a policy if you cross that line, and if your more than an inch and 3/4."
   In other words, the car's deck lid set 3/16 of an inch too far to the right side, which means one side became shorter and the other side was increased in length.
   Foyt's unsponsored #14 Dodge didn't meet the height requirement in the roof line, so the team was forced to pack up and get ready for Texas this coming week.
   "The #42 did pull-out a back-up car and have entered the back-up car," said Darby. "Unfortunately, the #14 car was unsituated for that, so they've withdrawn from the event."
   This was only the third time in NASCAR history where officials decided to impound one's race car and transport it to their NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C.
   "They've also confiscated Tony Stewart's car at Texas and Kyle Busch's car last year at Homestead," said Chip Gnassi team manager Andy Graves.
   As far as the effect on the team of McMurray, there was not much concern on them having to go to a back-up car and the performance they'd have.
   McMurray nearly finished in the top five on Sunday, but a bump in the last corner from Matt Kenseth relegated him back to the eighth spot.
   "We'll be fine, because Jamie got out 17th quick in practice," said Graves, leading up to Sunday's event. "When you put all the work and effort into one car and prepare it for that one race, and then you can't race, then it's going to frustrate a lot of people. Our back-up car is as good as our primary car, so we won't have a problem."
   The penalty was not so kind to Foyt though, as his team was unprepared for the setback, and with not bringing another car with an already tight budget, the team had to pack up and leave Bristol.
   "We were trying to repair it and fit the templates and I thought we had it pretty close, but I guess we didn't," said Foyt. "We still don't have a sponsor and that's what hurts for it cost a lot of money to get here, and even to repair the car to where we can get it to fit."
   The Foyt car competed frequently on the circuit last year, but with the ongoing changes of new templates and body dimensions, what was excepted last season did not meet the present requirements.
   "It's tough for the guys, for they've spent a lot of time in trying to get the car ready," said Foyt. "It was a car we ran last year and we tried to repair and fix it, so we could run it here.
   "We ran it 12 times last year, and now they've got some new templates and they're really cracking down on it. The NASCAR guys promised to come to the shop on Monday, and go over templates.
   "We've got to make sure we have it right before we go to Texas."
   As of Monday, it is still not clear to whether either race team will receive any fines or penalties, and if any it'll probably be later in the week before an official announcement is made, according to Mike Zizzo of NASCAR public relations.