Kyle Larson loses pole position on another inspection failure; Martin Truex Jr. starts first


LOUDON, New Hampshire – After appearing to bounce back from a penalty, Kyle Larson’s team ran afoul of the law again Friday.

Larson turned the fastest lap (133.324 mph) in qualifying at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, but the speed was disallowed afterward for an unapproved rear deck fin on his No. 42 Chevrolet.

That put Martin Truex Jr., who won at Kentucky Speedway last weekend, on the pole position for the first time in 2017.

“Not the way we wanted to get our first pole of the year but looking forward to starting up front and getting a good pit stall,” Truex said in a statement distributed by Furniture Row Racing.

Jimmie Johnson qualified second, followed by Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray and Kasey Kahne.

NASCAR announced Larson’s disqualification at 6:50 ET, roughly 45 minutes after he seemed to have captured his fourth pole position of the season.

Larson’s car passed a prequalifying inspection, but a postrace inspection revealed that the part improperly had shifted.

Larson will start last for the second consecutive race after the latest of numerous run-ins with NASCAR inspectors. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver also started from the rear at Kentucky Speedway after failing to get through inspection in time to make a qualifying attempt (which also happened at Texas Motor Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway).

Larson is working at New Hampshire with interim crew chief Tony Lunders in place of Chad Johnston, who was suspended three races for an improper rear brake cooling assembly at Kentucky.

Larson also was docked 35 points for the infraction, knocking him from atop the standings behind Truex.

“I honestly know nothing about race cars, so I don’t honestly know what it was that got us in trouble,” Larson said Friday when asked about the Kentucky penalty. “Yeah, it was a big penalty, so it must have been something important in their eyes.”

Larson will be held 30 minutes from the final practice Saturday at New Hampshire after failing prerace inspection multiple times at Kentucky (where his car was last to be rolled to the starting grid before it completed a race-high 90 green-flag passes in finishing second).

The disallowed speed serves as the penalty for Friday’s infraction, meaning there will be no further penalties for the unapproved rear deck fin next week.

Click here for the Cup qualifying results at New Hampshire.

NASCAR America: Should penalty for failing inspection be more severe?


After 13 cars failed qualifying inspection last Friday at Auto Club Speedway, NASCAR America’s analysts addressed the current state of rules that resulted in all thirteen teams not getting to make a qualifying attempt.

While Kyle Busch said the issues are “not that big deal,” especially with the new scanning system still in its infancy, Jeff Burton disagrees. Burton points to how much engineering has become involved in the sport and trying make cars better with NASCAR’s rules.

“It’s snowballed into this great big bag of rules,” Burton said. “We have all these rules that the teams have forced NASCAR to create. I don’t know the way out of it. There’s two ways to do it. You make the penalties harsher, with the theory being they won’t do it if the penalty is so harsh, or you have less rules. The problem is if you have less rules you’re going to have more cars that aren’t within those rules as they are.”

After the issues in Cup qualifying, NASCAR told Xfinity Series teams on Saturday that any team that did not attempt a lap in qualifying would start from the rear of the field and be required to serve a pass-through penalty once the green flag waved.

“It is a mess, but I disagree with Kyle (Busch), it is a big deal,” Burton said, citing fans who don’t get to see their favorite driver qualifying. “That’s not good. That’s not good for sponsors, that’s mainly not good for mainly race fans. If race fans tune in and their guy isn’t on track, why are they going to tune in next week? They deserve to see their guy on track. It’s got to get fixed.”

NASCAR announced Monday that inspection this weekend at Martinsville Speedway would take place after qualifying and would also serve as pre-race inspection.

Jarrett, who said there are too many rules, agreed with Burton.

“The only way of fixing this is making the penalty so severe that these teams aren’t going to take any chances,” Jarrett said.

Watch the above video for more.

NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Auto Club Speedway recap, West Coast Awards

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and looks back at the weekend’s racing at Auto Club Speedway.

Rutledge Wood hosts with Jeff Burton, Kyle Petty and Dale Jarrett from the “Big Oak Table” at NBC Charlotte.

What to expect from the show.

  • Martin Truex Jr. flashed his championship form from last year and earned his first win of the 2018 season Sunday in Fontana. We’ll recap the last race of NASCAR Goes West from around the “Big Oak Table” at our NBC Sports studios in Charlotte. Plus, Rut and the gang will hand out the West Coast awards, honoring the best moments from the Vegas-Phoenix-Fontana run.
  • NASCAR is a sport built on families, and it’s seen lots of kids grow up at the track through the years. We’ll spend time discussing the next generation to catch the racing bug – including Harrison Burton, son of our Jeff Burton.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, you also can watch it via the online stream at http:/

If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

Landon Cassill gets Cup ride for Martinsville, Texas

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Landon Cassill will drive the No. 00 for StarCom Racing in the next two races, Martinsville and Texas, the team announced Monday.

Cassill replaces Jeffrey Earnhardt. StarCom Racing and Earnhardt parted ways after Sunday’s race at Auto Club Speedway.

Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway will mark Cassill’s first Cup race of the year. The 28-year-old has 259 career Cup starts and a career-best finish of fourth at Talladega in October 2014. He drove for Front Row Motorsports the past two seasons but was not retained after last year.

Cassill’s sponsor the next two races will be the United States First Responders Association, a non-profit, professional and social network of fire, EMS, rescue, law enforcement and military personnel, as well as civilian support teams.

StarCom Racing was privileged to acquire a new partnership with USFRA and Landon Cassill behind the wheel,” said Derrike Cope, team manager, in a statement. “I’m optimistic that his knowledge and experience will only help our efforts as well as the growth of our team.”

Said Cassill in a statement: “I love working with new teams. I feel like that is one of my strengths. StarCom Racing looks like they are in it for the long haul, and I am thrilled to be a part of it.” 

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Hendrick Motorsports withdraws appeal of Phoenix penalties against No. 9 team

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Hendrick Motorsports has withdrawn its appeal of penalties against Chase Elliott‘s N0. 9 team from last weekend’s race in Phoenix, NBC Sports confirmed.

NASCAR found a L1 infraction on Elliott’s car in the rear-suspension after the race at ISM Raceway.

NASCAR stated that the team’s truck trailing arm spacer/pinion angle shim mounting surfaces must be planar and in complete contact with corresponding mating surfaces at all points and at all times.

NASCAR fined crew chief Alan Gustafson $50,000, suspended car chief Josh Kirk two races and docked Elliott 25 points and the team 25 owner points. Elliott’s third-place finish in the race will not count toward any tiebreakers.

Following Sunday’s race at Auto Club Speedway, where Elliott finished 16th, he is 21st in the point standings.

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