NASCAR America: Failure to communicate ‘biggest issue’ with lack of Jimmie Johnson pit penalty

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One of the main stories to come out of Sunday’s Bank of America 500 was a late pit stop by Jimmie Johnson.

The pit stop took place on Lap 280 and saw Johnson start to leave his pit box before being stopped by his team due to an unsecured lug nut on the left front wheel.

Johnson backed up but his car, but he did not back all the way into the box before the lug nut was secured. NASCAR did not penalize the team. Johnson entered pit road fourth and exited 15th before finishing seventh.

The rule regarding pitting outside the box is rule 10.9.7.d:

“A vehicle may receive service only when they are in their assigned pit box and/or the garage area or at NASCAR’s discretion. Should a vehicle pit outside of its assigned pit box and begin to remove a wheel/tire(s), crew members must reinstall those same wheel/tire(s) and re-position the vehicle back within their pit box to avoid a penalty.”

Scott Miller, NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition, said the team was not penalized because the lug nut is a safety issue and the act of securing the lug nut was self penalizing.

NASCAR America analysts Steve Letarte and Kyle Petty shared their thoughts on the pit stop.

“When I go back and I read the rules and I go through it, I completely understand that there shouldn’t be a penalty for the 48,” Letarte said. “It’s hard to explain but think about a car that slides long into the pit box. The tire changer starts to take lug nuts off. You push the car back, you jack it up, change the tires and everything’s fine.

“That’s also hitting the lug nuts outside the pit box. By the rule, the 48 shouldn’t have been penalized. I questioned it during the broadcast because it failed the eye test.”

Letarte’s “bigger issue” was that Johnson’s crew chief, Chad Knaus, knew NASCAR wouldn’t penalize the team, but others, including race-winning crew chief Cole Pearn, did not.

“NASCAR gets criticized about consistency, this had nothing to do with consistency,” Letarte said. “I have an issue with communication. … Chad Knaus is a seven-time champion. If he needs a rule explained in further detail I think all the competitors should get a, ‘hey, guess what guys? This was a topic of conversation. If you have questions, come talk to us.'”

Petty also had an issue with some teams not knowing the rules and the “subtleties of the rules.”

“How can there be a subtlety for this rule, no subtlety for that rule and part of the guys know it and part of the guys don’t?” Petty asked. “I don’t know what sport we’re playing because that doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Said Letarte: “Words on paper are very different from a call in a race. It’s not in-bounds or out-of-bounds. It’s kind of the flow.”

BRANDT returns for third year with JR Motorsports in Xfinity Series

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BRANDT Professional Agriculture will return as a sponsor for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series, the team announced Wednesday.

The company will be a primary sponsor of Justin Allgaier‘s No. 7 Chevrolet in 19 races and an associate sponsor of Allgaier and his three teammates the rest of the season.

Brandt has sponsored Allgaier for eight years, including the last three with JR Motorsports.

Allgaier is a native of Riverton, Illinois, which is 15 miles from Springfield, Illinois, where the company is headquartered.

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Allgaier, 31, is coming off his second season that ended with him in the Championship 4. He earned two wins, 10 top five and 17 top-10 finishes. He also led a series-high 495 laps among Xfinity regulars.

He will be teammates with Elliott Sadler, Tyler Reddick and Michael Annett this year.

The Xfinity season begins Feb. 17 at Daytona International Speedway.

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NASCAR revamps Rookie of the Year points system in national series

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NASCAR has changed how it determines the Rookie of the Year in all three national series, it announced Thursday.

The new system, which will debut in a month at Daytona International Speedway, reflects the points system that decides the champion in each series, including the stage format in races.

A race win will earn a rookie candidate 40 points and five playoff points. A second-place finish will is worth 35 points and a third-place finish is 34 points, etc.

A rookie candidate who wins a stage will earn 10 points and one playoff point.

“The focus on our rising stars has never been stronger and simplifying the Sunoco Rookie of the Year system made perfect sense,” said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR’s senior vice president of racing operations in a press release. “Our fans track closely the progress of our young drivers and matching the Sunoco Rookie of the Year points structure with the championship points will help them follow this prestigious program and award more closely than ever before.”

Erik Jones was Rookie of the Year in the Cup Series last year. William Byron won the honor in the Xfinity Series and Chase Briscoe won it in the Camping World Truck Series.

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Watkins Glen, Michigan announce multi-year sponsor deals

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Watkins Glen International and Michigan International Speedway announced multi-year sponsorship deals for their Cup Series races Thursday.

WGI announced the Aug. 5 race at the road course will be sponsored by The 90-lap race will be called “Go Bowling at the Glen.”

This is not the first time the bowling brand has sponsored a Cup event. It sponsored the spring race at Kansas Speedway from 2016-17 and the August event at Pocono Raceway from 2013-14.

As part of the deal, Go Bowling will have two bowling lanes at the track for the race weekend.

Michigan has renewed its sponsorship deal with FireKeepers Casino Hotel for its June Cup race for “many years.”

The hotel in Battle Creek, Michigan, began its relationship with MIS by sponsoring pole day in 2014. It began sponsoring the June race in 2016.

TheFireKeepers Casino 400 is scheduled for June 10.

ISM Raceway (Phoenix) also announced the title sponsor for its March 11 Cup race.

The event will called the TicketGuardian 500.

TicketGuardian is a mobile ticketing insurance provider. When fans purchase tickets to events at ISM Raceway, they will be given the option to add TicketGuardian’s ticket protection coverage. This allows fans to have insurance on the tickets they’ve purchased in advance.

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Hendrick, Kelley Blue Book extend relationship through 2020

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Hendrick Motorsports and Kelley Blue Book have extended their sponsorship deal three years through 2020, the team announced Thursday.

The car pricing, research and valuation guide will be a primary sponsor on Chase Elliott‘s N0. 9 Chevrolet in two races each year.

This season it will be on the No. 9 for the Aug. 18 race at Bristol Motor Speedway and the November playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Kelley Blue Book has been partnered with Hendrick since 2014 when it had a one-race deal to sponsor Dale Earnhardt Jr.

It went to a two-race deal beginning in 2016.

MORE: Driving the No. 9 feels like going home for Chase Elliott

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