DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Driver Rusty Wallace and his Penske Racing South team were fined, disqualified from their 125-mile qualifying race on Thursday and moved back to 38th in the starting lineup for tomorrow's Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.
He was eighth on the starting grid after finishing fourth in the second of two NASCAR Winston Cup qualifying races Thursday, but NASCAR inspectors discovered that he was using an illegal carburetor.
Wallace lost his $26,720 prize money and crew chief Bill Wilburn was fined an additional $10,000.
Wallace was forced to use a provisional berth based on owner points from last season to remain in the field after he finished seventh in the point standings for the third consecutive season.
“I'm OK with the penalty,” he said. “I just hate that it happened. NASCAR knows there was no intent on our part. We were 12 horsepower off the best car because of the carburetor. We just had one of the wrong carburetors on the truck. We didn't check it and we're paying for it now.
“Our engine guys feel bad about it. We're going to start at the back of the field now, but I think we'll run better with the right carburetor on the car.”
The carburetor was found to have a venturi that did not meet NASCAR's specifications for the Daytona 500. The venturi - the constricted throat in the carburetor main body air passage - was found to have a diameter smaller than the minimum requirement of 1 9/16 inches, mandated for the Daytona 500.
The carburetor has to be different for this race to work with the restrictor-plate configuration. Daytona and Talladega are the only two restrictor-plate tracks on the circuit.
John Darby, Winston Cup Series Director, said the same carburetor will be legal next week when the Winston Cup series moves to Rockingham.
“I believe they made a mistake,” said Darby, who also stated that the carburetor could increase horsepower or fuel mileage.
IROC RACE: Sam Hornish of Defiance finished eighth in the International Race of Champions race after starting 12th and last in the field and moving up as high as fourth.
Mark Martin won the race with Winston Cup compatriot Kurt Busch second.
“I tried to make a pass with about five laps to go and nobody went with me, but that is part of the deal and I'll remember that,” said Hornish, two-time Indy Racing League champion. “Nobody was helping anybody today. We couldn't even get the Indy Car series guys to help each other.
“If I would have stayed in line where I was, I might have finished better, but you have to try to make a move. It just didn't work out.”