TALLADEGA, AL - OCTOBER 23:  Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Subway Toyota, Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 DeWalt Flexvolt Toyota, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Snickers Halloween Toyota, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Hellmann's 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 23, 2016 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)
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NASCAR says Gibbs’ sandbagging strategy was legal at Talladega; didn’t violate 100 percent rule

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A NASCAR official affirmed Monday morning that Joe Gibbs Racing didn’t violate the “100 percent rule” by electing to run at the back of the pack Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway.

Because they didn’t need strong finishes to advance to the Round of 8, the Toyotas of Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth dropped to the rear at the start of the Hellmann’s 500 and remained there for most of 500 miles. Kenseth finished 28th, Edwards 29th, Busch 30th.

The NASCAR rulebook requires drivers “to race at 100 percent of their ability,” but NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell said the JGR cars didn’t run afoul of the law because they pursued a strategy.

“I’d say they do not fall into (the 100 percent rule),” O’Donnell said Monday during his weekly appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Satellite Radio’s The Morning Drive. “The spirit of that rule is really to prevent somebody from intentionally allowing another teammate to do something that would not be in the spirit of the rules of the race.

“In this case, we look at that as a strategy decision that the team made. They executed it. It’s obviously part of the format. It’s a decision that they made during the race. But in this case, that wouldn’t be something that we look at that violates that rule.”

Busch playfully defended the strategy Monday morning on Twitter.

NASCAR created the 100 percent rule after Michael Waltrip Racing was punished for manipulating the 2013 regular-season finale at Richmond International Raceway. Here’s the rule:

           7.5 PERFORMANCE OBLIGATION .a NASCAR requires its Competitor(s) to race at 100 percent of their ability with the goal of achieving their best possible finishing position in the Event; .b Any Competitor(s) who takes action with the intent to Artificially Alter the finishing positions of the Event or encourages, persuades or induces others to Artificially Alter the finishing positions of the Event shall be subject to a penalty from NASCAR, as specified in Section 12 Violations and Disciplinary Action; .c “Artificially Alter” shall be defined as actions by any Competitor(s) that show or suggest that the Competitor(s) did not race at 100 percent of their ability for the purpose of changing finishing positions in the Event, in NASCAR’s sole discretion.

O’Donnell also said JGR cars likely wouldn’t face further penalties for being pulled out of qualifying Saturday and returned to inspection.

“I would doubt it,” he said of further penalties. “I think our reaction there is the penalty is the 5-minute line. If we find something and the car has to go back through inspection, we feel that’s severe enough. If the team wasn’t able to fix that part or piece and was not able to qualify, that’s the penalty.

In need of a wedding singer? Call Steven Tyler

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 05:  Singer Steven Tyler performs during his "Out on a Limb" tour at the Dolby Theatre on July 5, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for ABA)
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for ABA
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Steven Tyler has performed with Aerosmith in a video for ESPN back when it broadcast NASCAR races. Tyler also has performed before the night race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Now, he’s played Kurt Busch‘s wedding.

What more is left for the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer?

Tyler performed at a celebration for the marriage of Kurt and Ashley Busch earlier this month. Kurt Busch posted a photo of the evening.

That NASCAR-themed video Tyler did with Aerosmith for the 2007 season? Here it is:

Before he performed at Bristol in Aug. 2015, Tyler met Richard Petty:

Chip Ganassi Racing adds competition director

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 27:  Team owner Chip Ganassi looks on as drivers perpare on Carb Day ahead of the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on May 27, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images
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Chip Ganassi Racing has hired Mark McArdle to be its competition director, a new position for the organization.

McArlde will oversee the team’s two Cup teams — Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray — and its Xfinity operation, which features Brennan Poole, Tyler Reddick, Justin Marks and Larson.

McArdle had been with Roush Fenway Racing. He joined the team in Nov. 2014 to oversee engineering for its Cup and Xfinity programs. He previously had been director of racing operations at Richard Childress Racing, joining that organization in April 2013. He spent four years before that at Furniture Row Racing, overseeing the team’s competition department.

At Ganassi, McArdle will report to Max Jones, team manager.

Last year marked the first time in the team’s history that it had two cars make the Cup playoffs. Both Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray, though, failed to advance from the first round. Larson, who had one win, finished ninth in the points. McMurray, who was winless, placed 13th.

“I think everybody in the building feels like we took a good step forward last year,’’ said Steve Lauletta, president of Chip Ganassi Racing. “We’re not happy with the step we took. We have more to do. So, being able to bring more of the leadership into the building that can focus on how we get there, the process that we need, we continue to bring on more people.

“I think Max feels like another person can help us make sure that everybody is focused on the right thing and we’re not wasting time and resources. Mark brings a tremendous amount of expertise to continue that growth that we’ve seen.’’

JR Motorsports to keep championship-contending tandem together

SPARTA, KY - JULY 07:  Elliott Sadler, driver of the #1 OneMain Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Alsco 300 at Kentucky Speedway on July 7, 2016 in Sparta, Kentucky.  (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
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JR Motorsports confirmed Tuesday that crew chief Kevin Meendering will remain with Elliott Sadler this season.

Meendering and Sadler recorded three Xfinity wins last year in their first season together. Meendering also helped Sadler score a career-best 29 top-10 results and finish runner-up for the series title to Daniel Suarez.

The announcement was included in a team release about Hunt Brothers Pizza serving as the primary sponsor for Sadler’s car in two races in each of the next two seasons.

Wood Brothers give a tour of new race shop

LOUDON, NH - JULY 15:  Ryan Blaney, driver of the #21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series New Hampshire 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 16, 2016 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
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The Wood Brothers begin this season not only with a charter but with a new home.

The team had shared a building with JTG Daugherty in Harrisburg, North Carolina, but moved after last season to a shop in Mooresville, North Carolina. The move puts the Wood Brothers closer to Team Penske. The two organizations are aligned.

The Wood Brothers will again have Ryan Blaney as driver. The team also has a charter, leasing it from Go Fas Racing. That means the Wood Brothers team is guaranteed a starting spot in every Cup race this year, unlike last year when they did not have a charter.