Sauter's truck team severely penalized for Kansas infractions

Johnny Sauter's team in the Camping World Truck Series was hit with heavy penalties from NASCAR on Wednesday for an unapproved fuel cell discovered on his truck during opening day inspection this past weekend at Kansas Speedway.

Sauter, who drives the No. 98 Toyota for ThorSport Racing, was docked 25 points, and his crew chief, Joe Shear, received a four-race suspension. Shear was also fined $10,000 and placed on probation until Dec. 31. Truck owner Mike Curb was penalized with a loss of 25 points as well.

According to a release from NASCAR, "The No. 98 truck was found to have violated Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4K (if in the judgment of NASCAR Officials, race equipment that has been previously verified or previously approved and/or sealed by NASCAR for use in an event, pursuant to sub-section 8-6 and/or 8-12, has been altered, modified, repaired, or changed in any manner); 20B-16 (once a fuel cell or fuel cell components have been certified, modifications of any kind will not be permitted to the fuel cell or fuel cell components); and 20B-16.1B (standard black, safety foam with minimum free-standing height of eight (8) inches, acceptable to NASCAR Officials, and used as provided by an approved fuel cell manufacturer, must be used: Fuel cell safety foam modification.) of the 2013 rule book."

Sauter held a 12-point lead over second-place and ThorSport teammate Matt Crafton before the penalties were issued. Sauter has now dropped into a tie with rookie Jeb Burton for second in the rankings. Both drivers are 13 points behind Crafton, who won the 250-mile truck race at Kansas.

Sauter won the first two races of the season -- Daytona and Martinsville -- before finishing fourth at Rockingham, N.C. and then fifth at Kansas.