Mark Zeske's Top NASCAR Cheaters
Ray Evernham/Jeff Gordon
In 1995, NASCAR hit up Evernham, Gordon's crew chief at the time, for $60,000 because of unapproved suspension parts. There's no doubt they were a modern-day Butch and Sundance. So who got penalized the week before the 2007 Daytona 500? Gordon and two of Evernham's teams.
Factor in inflation, and perhaps the biggest penalty in NASCAR history was slapped on its biggest legend, Petty. In 1983, before television rewrote racing economics, NASCAR took away $35,000 and 104 championship points from Petty when he was found with an oversized engine at Charlotte.
Johnson, while a team owner, received some of the harshest penalties doled out by NASCAR, both in time and money. In 1991, Johnson and team members were given a 12-week suspension for an illegal carburetor, a penalty which was later reduced to four weeks. Then in 1995 at Daytona, Johnson was fined $45,000 when Brett Bodine's car was found to have an unapproved intake.
With NASCAR tightening up on the rules and Waltrip racing for the first time for new sugar-daddy Toyota, a member of Waltrip's team spikes the No. 55 car with jet fuel. Oops! Waltrip's team gets hit with a penalty of $100,000 and 100 points plus an indefinite suspension of his team's crew chief and VP of competition.
Yunick, a car owner and mechanic in the '50s and '60s, is the center of many legendary crime stories. One time Yunick (right in photo, with driver Herb Thomas) even built a 7/8-scale car and raced it, but the con job was too good. Smokey got caught when his car was 1/8th faster than the entire field.
In 1995 at Talladega, Ricky Rudd was fined $45,000 when NASCAR discovered a hydraulic lift in his rear deck lid. And the last time a win was taken away from a driver came in 1991, when Rudd crossed the finish line first at the Sears Point road course but lost the victory when NASCAR penalized him for knocking leader Davey Allison off the track.
Roush claims that NASCAR penalties have cost him two Nextel Cup titles and one Craftsman Truck championship. The most celebrated of these infractions came in 1990, when Mark Martin finished 26 points behind Cup champion Dale Earnhardt. At Richmond that season, NASCAR penalized Martin $40,000 and 46 championship points because of a carburetor spacer.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The 2004 season alone puts Junior on this list. He lost $10,000 and 25 points twice that year. First he spun out on purpose at Bristol to bring out a caution, then he used profanity in a live post-race interview. Technically, the latter might not be cheating -- but it certainly wasn't to NASCAR's liking.
Roberts won the 1955 race in Daytona Beach but had the win taken away because of an engine modification. It was the last time NASCAR disqualified a Cup winner for failing a post-race inspection.
Knaus missed Jimmie Johnson's Victory Lane celebration after the 2006 Daytona 500. That's because crew chief Knaus had been booted out of the Daytona garages earlier in the week when the No. 48 car failed to pass inspection after qualifying. Knaus was suspended for four races, fined $25,000 and spent all of 2006 on probation. Knaus has been penalized eight times by NASCAR in less than five seasons and won appeals two other times.