Matt Kenseth wasstripped of 50 championship points and his crew chief Jason… (Jerry Markland / Getty Images )
Matt Kenseth said Thursday the massive penalties that NASCAR levied against the driver and his Joe Gibbs Racing team were "grossly unfair" and "borderline shameful."
NASCAR on Wednesday stripped Kenseth of 50 championship points and suspended his crew chief Jason Ratcliff for several races, among other penalties, because last weekend Kenseth's No. 20 Toyota had an engine part that was too light.
The faulty part -- a rod that connects a piston to the crankshaft and normally weighs just over one pound -- was detected in an inspection after Kenseth won Sunday's race at Kansas Speedway.
But Toyota Racing Development in Costa Mesa, which built the engine, took the blame and said the rod was too light by only three grams, equivalent to two cotton balls, according to the automaker.
"There was no performance advantage, there was no intent, it was a mistake," Kenseth told reporters at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, site of the next Sprint Cup race Saturday night.
"I don't feel bad for myself at all, but for Jason and Joe [Gibbs], I just couldn't feel any worse," said Kenseth, the 2003 Cup champion who joined Gibbs this season. "I just think the penalty is way over the top."
Gibbs Racing is appealing. "We'll just go through that and see what happens and see whatever the final verdict is," Kenseth said. "We'll have to live with that and move on."
UCLA gives Freeman release
Guard Allerick Freeman has been released from his basketball scholarship by UCLA. Freeman, a guard whom the Bruins recruited from Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep, signed a letter of intent in the fall. He asked for a release after Ben Howland was fired as UCLA's coach.
The Bruins' recruiting class has two players remaining, guard Zach LaVine and forward Noah Allen. Guard Bryce Alford, the son of new Coach Steve Alford, has said he will attend UCLA. Alford signed a letter of intent with New Mexico, where his father previously coached.
Ricky Barnes birdied six of the last eight holes at rain-softened TPC Louisiana to take a one-stroke lead in the Zurich Classic at Avondale.
Barnes finished the opening round with an eagle, seven birdies and a bogey for an eight-under-par 64. Boo Weekley and Lucas Glover were a stroke back, and D.A. Points and Morgan Hoffmann shot 66.
Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old Chinese amateur playing on a sponsor exemption, opened with an even-par 72. He tied for 58th in the Masters after becoming the youngest player to make the cut at Augusta National, and said Thursday that he will play in a U.S. Open qualifier in two weeks in Dallas.
LPGA Tour rookie Caroline Masson shot a bogey-free seven-under 64 to take a two-stroke lead over Carlota Ciganda after the first round of the inaugural North Texas LPGA Shootout at Irving.
Inbee Park, the No. 1 women's player in the world, was in a group at 67.
Top-seeded Maria Sharapova needed three sets and more than three hours in her clay-court season debut to overcome Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic for a place in the Porsche Grand Prix quarterfinals at Stuttgart, Germany.
Sharapova, the defending champion, won 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-3 in a match that lasted 3 hours 9 minutes.
Boston Coach Doc Rivers was fined $25,000 by the NBA for publicly criticizing game officials after the Celtics' loss to New York on Tuesday night.
When asked about two fouls on Kevin Garnett in the first 3:20 of the Celtics' 87-71 loss in Game 2 of the playoff series, Rivers called them "horrendous."
The Knicks lead the series 2-0. Game 3 is Friday night in Boston.
Nick Ponzio, a senior shotputter at Temecula Great Oak, set a Southern Section record when he recorded a mark of 69 feet 71/4 inches during a dual meet at Murrieta Mesa.
His previous best mark was 60-11.
Former Atlanta Braves pitcher Rick Camp was found dead at his northwest Georgia home Thursday morning.
The 60-year-old Camp was found at his home in Rydal, Ga., about 55 miles northwest of downtown Atlanta, Bartow County Coroner Joel Guyon said. Authorities were unclear Thursday on Camp's cause of death.
Camp played with the Braves from 1976 to 1985 and was 56-49 with a 3.37 earned-run average in 65 starts and 349 relief appearances.
Sam Williams, the former Detroit Lions defensive end who also played for the Los Angeles Rams and Atlanta Falcons, has died. He was 82.
Williams' son said his father died Thursday after an illness in Livonia, Mich., a Detroit suburb.