NASCAR laid down a sizeable punishment of 100 driver and owner points in the standings, $100,000 and a seven-week suspension for crew chief Tony Eury Jr. for having the wing on the back of the car mounted improperly on the No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet during pre-race inspection at Darlington.
Eury's suspension is immediate, meaning he won't be available for Saturday's Nextel All-Star Challenge and the six races that follow. Eury has also been placed on probation until Dec. 31.
"We don't have a problem with the ruling because it's clearly stated in the rulebook," said DEI VP of competition Richie Gilmore. "But we have a problem with the severity of the penalty."
Gilmore said the team will appeal the penalty to NASCAR on Monday.
"They're going to set an example out of somebody," Eury said. "The eight car, people think we get away with more than anybody. I kind of expected it. I expected the worst. I just went into the record books. That's all I know. I'm the first to screw up on the COT."
After a little research, Eury said he discovered that the unapproved brackets were previously used during a wind-tunnel test and had not been replaced before the car came to the track. Eury said with the wing lowered to 18-degrees, the car's downforce was 20 counts less than had it been mounted to specifications.
"They did us a favor by putting on the other brackets," said Eury, who mailed the wind-tunnel report to Nextel Cup Series director John Darby. "But I understand I don't have the blue-printed bracket on the car. I made an honest mistake and accept whatever (NASCAR) decides.
"My boys will kick their (butts) one way or the other."
Earnhardt jumped into the top 12 with an eighth-place finish at Darlington, but the 100-point deduction slides him down to 14th in the standings. The top 12 at the end of 26 races qualify for the Chase.
This is the second time this season NASCAR has handed out penalties of 100 points and $100,000. Michael Waltrip Racing received the same punishment after failing inspection at Daytona in February, but that was accompanied by indefinite suspensions to crew chief David Hyder and VP of competition Bobby Kennedy.
In the classic tradition of covering your buddy's back, Earnhardt has offered to pay the fine for his cousin Eury if necessary.
"Yeah, but I might have to borrow his plane so I can go to Maui for two weeks," Eury chuckled.
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