DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — NASCAR has fined three car owners $50,000 each and penalized their teams for manipulating the season-ending Cup Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in an alleged scheme to collect a higher bonus payout.
Jay Robinson (Premium Motorsports), Rick Ware (Rick Ware Racing) and TJ Puchyr (Spire Motorsports) were fined. Each team penalized had cars fall out of the race, apparently to ensure that Premium’s No. 27 car advanced and finished with the most points for the season among unchartered teams. That would ensure the largest bonus, with the difference from first to second for unchartered teams totally some $175,000.
Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, said four teams were docked 50 points from the 2019 team owner standings
“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 Wednesday.
The No. 15 of Joe Nemechek (Premium), the No. 77 of Reed Sorenson (Spire) and the No. 52 of Josh Bilicki (Rick Ware Racing) all retired from the Nov. 17 race with mechanical trouble within a 15-lap span late in the race. Among the uncharted teams, it led to a one-point margin in the standings for the No. 27 driven to a 35th-place finish by Ross Chastain (Premium).
The penalties mean the No. 96 of Gaunt Brothers Racing is the top uncharted team finisher for the season.
NASCAR also said competition directors Scott Eggleston (Premium) and Kenneth Evans (Rick Ware) had been suspended indefinitely and fined $25,000.
Spire Motorsports said it would not appeal the penalty.
“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.”
The incident recalls the 2013 incident in which Michael Waltrip Racing tried to rig the regular-season finale at Richmond to get Martin Truex Jr. into the playoffs. NASCAR punished the team and took the unprecedented step of kicking Truex out of the Chase in favor of Ryan Newman.
Dixie Vodka, NASCAR Announce Multi-Year Partnership
NASCAR and Dixie Vodka announce a multi-year official partnership, designating the American-made craft spirit brand as the “Official Vodka of NASCAR.” Central to the agreement, Dixie Vodka will sponsor the NASCAR Cup Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway next season, commemorating the track’s 25th anniversary.
Launched in 2014 by Grain & Barrel Spirits, Dixie Vodka is the largest premium craft vodka produced in the Southeast and includes a lineup of six unique expressions all representing the best of Southern flavor and craftsmanship. The South Carolina-based brand is one of the fastest-growing spirit brands in the United States and recently expanded its distribution footprint west of the Mississippi.
“Dixie Vodka is entering the sport with an integrated industry approach, introducing its product to a national fan base that actively supports partners of the sport,” said Daryl Wolfe, executive vice president and chief operations and sales officer, NASCAR. “NASCAR is rooted in heritage and tradition, beginning as a regional sport that eventually grew into a global property. Our new partners have emulated that approach and are utilizing this partnership to expand Dixie’s presence and brand awareness.”
For its first taste of NASCAR, Dixie Vodka will join NASCAR Champion’s Week celebrations at the Fan Fest in Nashville, serving cocktails in Music City’s Riverfront Park alongside all 16 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs race cars and other fan displays Dec. 3-5.
“Our goal from day one has been to align with partners who share our mission of promoting the best of our region’s wonderful hospitality, flavors and craftsmanship,” said Matti Christian Anttila, founder of Dixie Vodka and CEO of Grain & Barrel Spirits. “NASCAR is an iconic brand that has grown from southern roots into a national sport watched by millions of people every race day. This partnership allows us to speak directly to that amazing fanbase, introducing them to the best of the flavors of the south and the heart and soul we put into every single bottle of Dixie Vodka. We’ll toast to that.”
The Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 22, 2020 will help celebrate the track’s 25th anniversary season.
As part of the event, Dixie Vodka will be featured at bars throughout the racetrack.
“Dixie Vodka aligns perfectly with what Miami and Homestead-Miami Speedway are all about,” said Homestead-Miami Speedway President Al Garcia. “Not only can our fans witness some of the most exciting racing in NASCAR, but we also have tremendous amenities throughout our facility that they are able to experience as well. It’s all about fun, and that’s what Homestead-Miami Speedway and Dixie Vodka will offer all of our guests. We are thrilled about this new partnership as we commemorate the 25th anniversary of our venue.”
At the start of the 2020 season, fans will have the opportunity to taste Dixie Vodka and a lineup of its all-American cocktails at the Dixie Vodka-branded bar at Daytona International Speedway. Additionally, fans will be able to celebrate every win at Richmond Raceway from the Dixie Vodka Victory Lane Club, which provides unprecedented access to the action in the infield.
As part of the partnership, Dixie Vodka also becomes the Official Vodka of the DAYTONA 500, Daytona International Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway and Richmond Raceway.