NASCAR handed out the biggest fine in stock car history Sunday night when Mark Martin's Ford Thunderbird was found to have an illegal engine part three hours after it won the Pontiac 400 at the Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.
The team was fined $40,000 and 46 points in the standings when a spacer between the carburetor and intake manifold was found to be a half-inch too tall. NASCAR rules limit the height of the spacer to two inches. Martin's was 2 1/2 inches.
"We don't know if it's an advantage or not," said Winston Cup Competition Director Dick Beaty. "The rule is to make sure the carburetor and air filter fit under the hood."
Martin was allowed to keep the victory, but will take home only $19,150 of his $59,150 earnings.
He left the raceway before learning his car had flunked technical inspection.
Martin had won the race when his crew changed just the right-side tires of his Ford Thunderbird with 15 laps left.
"There was four choices: two tires on the left, two tires on the right, four tires or stay out," Martin said. "The guys made the right choice."
Other challengers changed all four tires.
The move got Martin out of the pits first, and he pulled away from Dale Earnhardt over the final 15 laps to win the 400-lap event.
The biggest previous fine came in 1983, when Richard Petty was assessed $35,000 after his winning car at Charlotte, N.C., was found to have an oversized engine and illegal tires.
Geoff Brabham, Chip Robinson and Bob Earl combined to win the attrition-filled Miami Grand Prix, racing to a one-lap victory in a Nissan prototype.
Brabham and Robinson won at Miami for the second consecutive time, with Brabham, who started from the pole for the fourth straight year, winning on the downtown street circuit for the third time in four years.