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Loomis fined, Gordon loses points

Robbie Loomis, crew chief of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, was fined $25,000 Tuesday after running an illegal intake manifold during the Chevrolet Monte Carlo 400 at Richmond International Raceway last weekend.

Jeff Gordon, driver of the same car, was docked 100 championship points for the same offense. He will however keep his status as winner of the race and will keep the $130,220 that he won. His loss of 100 points will not affect his 10th place points position.

Loomis was cited for violations of the 2000 NASCAR Winston Cup Series rule book, Section 12-4-Q: "Any determination by NASCAR Officials that the parts and/or equipment used in the Event do not conform... or have not been approved by NASCAR..."

"The General Motors intake manifold that the No. 24 team used during Saturday night's race in Richmond has not been approved," said Mike Helton, NASCAR's Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. "The GM part number on the casting was the same, however, a different material was used which altered the properties of the casting.

"The changed casting was not resubmitted by GM for NASCAR's approval in accordance with our procedures."

According to Gordon, the intake manifold used was not made by Hendrick Motorsports, and was supposed to be an approved piece.

"It was manufactured by GM and we've used it since May," Gordon said. "We've gone through numerous NASCAR inspections with the same piece without any problem.

"It just upsets me because this team worked hard for that win in Richmond, and I believe these allegations that we cheated will undeservedly overshadow that victory."

Hendrick Motorsports does not feel that they were cheating in any way either. Rick Hendrick, CEO of Hendrick Motorsports issued this press release:

"We have notified NASCAR that we will appeal the penalty imposed on the #24 team following our victory Saturday night in Richmond. Not only do we feel a full hearing on the facts will exonerate our team from any intentional wrong doing, but it will remove any cloud of suspicion cast over a great victory.

The alleged violation involves the use of a magnesium alloy rather than aluminum in the intake manifold. The engine part in question is not built by Hendrick Motorsports, but is supplied to us and all other teams by General Motors. The engine part found to be in violation of NASCAR rules Saturday in Richmond has a GM part number specifically listed in the NASCAR rule book as an approved intake manifold. GM engineers believe that the intake manifold conforms to all NASCAR rules according to approved templates, gauges and other measuring devices. Hendrick Motorsports engineers have tested the part and determined that it in no way affected horsepower output.

We were under the impression NASCAR officials have been aware of the use of magnesium in intake manifolds for several months and had indicated to GM that it was approved as long as the part was not altered in any other way.

There was no attempt to conceal the part, which we have been running since April. It also passed post-race inspection in Charlotte for two of our cars. Hendrick Motorsports has a strict policy that our people abide by the rules. There certainly was no attempt by us to gain an unfair advantage with a part available to, and in fact used by, other teams, and we feel confident this ruling will be reversed on appeal."

Doug Duchardt, NASCAR Group Manager for GM Racing said in a press release Tuesday night, that the fine issued to Loomis and the points taken away from Gordon and Hendrick were unfair.

"We are very disappointed in the penalties by NASCAR against Hendrick Motorsports and Jeff Gordon.

We supplied these magnesium intake manifolds to our teams in the clear belief that they are allowed under the rules. They are identical in shape and dimensions to the comparable aluminum manifold, produce no increase in horsepower and NASCAR has, on many occasions, permitted changes in materials of components where not explicitly prohibited by the rules. There is no mention of materials in the rule on intake manifolds.

There has never been any intent by GM Racing to provide these parts to teams secretly or to secure an unfair advantage by doing so. NASCAR technical officials have been aware of the use of this manifold for some time. Moreover, on multiple occasions, engines using these manifolds have been inspected by NASCAR and pronounced satisfactory.

We pride ourselves on having open, constructive communications with NASCAR officials on all matters, especially technical ones. Our track record over the years is proof enough of that. We followed the same process as before and believed that the submission of a new part to NASCAR for approval was not necessary.

It is deeply regrettable that this situation has occurred."