NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Ryan Newman has been penalized 75 points and his crew chief has been fined $125,000 after NASCAR determined the team illegally altered air pressures in its tires during a March 22 event at Auto Club Speedway.
The findings came after an audit of tires taken from four teams following the Auto Club 400 were sent to an outside agency for further evaluation.
The 75-point loss dropped Newman from sixth to 26th in the points standings after six races.
Tire audits have been conducted after the last three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events as rumors of teams illegally altering air pressures swirled through the garage. By allowing air to escape from tires as they heat up, more of the tire's surface remains in contact with the race track, providing more grip consistently throughout a run.
According to the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rulebook, "Any device, modification, or procedure to the tire or wheel, including the valve stem hardware, that is used to release pressure, beyond normal pressure adjustments, from the tire and/or inner shield, will not be permitted."
Penalties for such infractions are classified as P5 level by NASCAR, and in this case resulted in the loss of 75 championship driver and car owner points for Newman and car owner Richard Childress; a $125,000 fine and six-race suspension for crew chief Luke Lambert; and six-race suspensions for team tire technician James Bender and team engineer Philip Surgen.