NASCAR penalizes Chase Elliott’s team for Texas infraction (video)

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Chase Elliott will be without crew chief Alan Gustafson for the next two Cup races after NASCAR issued its second L1 penalty against the team this season.

NASCAR announced Tuesday that the No. 9 team was found to have violated Section 20.4.8.1 (dealing with rear window support). A brace that supports the rear window did not meet specifications for keeping the rear window glass rigid in all directions. The infraction was found in inspection at NASCAR’s R&D Center.

The infraction is from Sunday’s Texas race. Elliott finished 11th.

NASCAR fined Gustafson $50,000 along with the suspension. Elliott was docked 20 points. The team was docked 20 car owner points.

Elliott drops from 15th to 18th in the season standings with the penalty. Elliott now has 128 points. He’s had 45 points in penalties.

Hendrick Motorsports stated it would not appeal the penalty. Kenny Francis will serve as Elliott’s crew chief this weekend at Bristol and next weekend at Richmond.

NASCAR penalized Elliott’s team for an L1 violation found after the Phoenix race in March. NASCAR stated that the team’s truck trailing arm/pinion angle shim mounting surfaces must be planar and in complete contact with corresponding mating surfaces at all points and at all times. Elliott was docked 25 points for that infraction.

This is the third L1 penalty to the team since the beginning of last year’s playoffs — a span of 17 races.

NASCAR penalized the team in September 2017 for an infraction after the race in the playoff opener at Chicagoland Speedway. NASCAR penalized the team modifying components to affect aerodynamic properties of the car. 

NASCAR docked Elliott 15 points, the team 15 car owner points, fined Gustafson $25,000, suspended Gustafson one race and suspended car chief Joshua Kirk two races. 

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NASCAR America: Analyzing penalty vs. Chase Elliott, team and planned appeal

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On Thursday’s NASCAR America, Nate Ryan, Dale Jarrett and Parker Kligerman gave their takes on Wednesday’s penalties assessed to Chase Elliott and his team.

One bit of good news: because Hendrick Motorsports has appealed the penalties, car chief Josh Kirk (who faces a two-race suspension), will be able to attend this weekend’s race in Fontana, California.

Also, crew chief Alan Gustafson will have his $50,000 fine held in abeyance pending the outcome of the appeal.

Elliott has lost 25 driver points (falls from 16th to 23rd in the Cup standings) and team owner Rick Hendrick lost 25 owner points, but those numbers could be reversed if the appeal reverses the penalties.

NASCAR Talk’s Nate Ryan compared Elliott’s penalty to the kind Joey Logano received after winning last year at Richmond, missing the playoffs as a result.

Elliott finished third last Sunday at Phoenix before being assessed with the Level 1 penalty for a rear suspension violation.

“The team is going to try and challenge (the penalty),” Ryan said. “There has not been a day and time scheduled for that appeal hearing yet. I presume it will probably happen next week.

“Hendrick Motorsports will go in front of the three-man panel and make its case with the possibility the penalty could be reduced or overturned, but that doesn’t happen often, only about a third of the time does that (appeals) panel reduce a penalty.”

Jarrett called the penalty “very unfortunate,” but added, “if there’s a good side of it from the team side, it happened early in the year and they can make up those 25 points, although you don’t want to put yourself at a deficit.”

Jarrett said his biggest takeaway from Wednesday’s penalty is that it came three days after the race, and about 2,000 miles away in Concord, North Carolina, rather than be found and assessed where the race occurred Sunday, in Avondale, Arizona.

“We have to some way, some time, find a way that we’re not taking these cars back and looking at every little detail and then levy penalties on Wednesday,” Jarrett said. “It’s not that it’s a little (violation), I understand there’s something there, but going to back to the R&D Center and levying these penalties on Wednesday, I don’t agree with.”

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NASCAR penalizes Chase Elliott’s team for Phoenix violation

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NASCAR penalized Chase Elliott‘s Hendrick Motorsports team for an L1 violation found after Sunday’s race at Phoenix.

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 will not count toward any tiebreakers. By losing 25 points, Elliott drops from 16th to 23rd in the points.

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.

The team is appealing the penalty, and NASCAR confirmed Thursday that Kirk’s suspension will be deferred until the case is heard, allowing him to be in the garage at Auto Club Speedway this weekend. The appeal hearing date hasn’t been set yet.

NASCAR also announced that the cars of Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. were all cited for having one lug nut unsecured at the end of the Phoenix race. That resulted in a $10,000 fine each to crew chiefs Todd Gordon (Logano), Cole Pearn (Truex), Mike Wheeler (Hamlin), Jeremy Bullins (Blaney) and Brian Pattie (Stenhouse).

In the Xfinity Series, the teams of Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch were each found to have one lug nut unsecured. That resulted in a $5,000 fine for crew chief Brian Wilson (Keselowski) and Eric Phillips (Busch).

NASCAR also announced that Brandon Lee and Wayne Kanter had been indefinitely suspended for violating NASCAR’s substance abuse policy.

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Mark Martin shares the story of when Dale Earnhardt made him mad

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Mark Martin joined the digital world Monday with the debut of his own podcast, sharing stories about his interest in rap music, his racing carer and his battles with Dale Earnhardt.

Martin won 40 career Cup races (a mark Kevin Harvick tied Sunday with his victory at ISM Raceway) in a career that began in 1981 and ended in 2013. Martin’s success led to his induction to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2017.

During episode one of the Mark Martin Podcast, the former racer took fan questions. He talked about a variety of topics, noting what he liked about rap music, what valuable lesson crew chief Alan Gustafson taught him and how he doesn’t lament losing the 2007 Daytona 500 by a nose but how another loss ranks as the one that bothers him to this day.

One question to Martin was who made him the maddest at the track.

Dale Earnhardt’s name came up.

Here’s how Martin tells the story:

“I had some issues with Earnhardt,’’ Martin said “The stories on Earnhardt are Dale really respected me before I got to NASCAR, he knew who I was. He treated me with great respect until one day in the mid 90s he wakes up and he just thinks, ‘Boy, I’ll just mess with Mark, see how much he will take.’ He started pushing my buttons just for the fun of it.

“I would go out to practice and try to run by myself and he would come out. He would wait for me. He would come out right beside me and he would get on the outside of me. That’s when the cars were just starting to get aero loose with a car on the outside.

“He would mess with me and mess with me and mess with me. Well, I finally got tired of it at Michigan. He got on my outside and I switched it on him. I got ahead of him and then let him get on the inside of me and when we did, it sucked him around. He spun me around and he wrecked me. I had not wrecked myself or him all this time he had been messing with me and it pissed me off because it wrecked my car. Leave me alone. So I was mad. That was in practice. That wasn’t in a race.

“So, the next weekend on Friday, first thing we rolled out at New Hampshire, I go out and here he is. He does the same thing, and I put the wheel on him in practice. He comes in after practice and he looks at his p.r. guy and he said ‘I think Mark has had enough.’

“That’s all. It was just playing. I wasn’t going to cry to the media, I wasn’t going to complain, I was going to be a man. I wasn’t going to be a baby. Some of the other people, their reactions … Dale didn’t like the way they reacted, he didn’t respect it and he made their life miserable.

“I watched him do it to Geoff Bodine. God, he just irritated Geoff Bodine something terrible, just all the time and he just did it because he didn’t like the way Geoff would act when he would do it to him. He would just do it. Dale was a tough guy, he was a tough customer.’’

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What drivers said after Phoenix race

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Kevin Harvick – Winner: “I’ve been mad as all get out because this team does a great job. This organization does a great job, and we’ve got fast race cars. And to take that away from those guys just really pissed me off last week. To come here to a racetrack that is so good for us is a lot of fun, and everyone was just determined this week, and we just wanted to just go stomp them. We didn’t stomp them, but we won. That’s all that really matters. Just proud of this team. Put a fire in our belly. What a badass team right there!”

Kyle Busch – Finished 2nd: “Today wasn’t easy, and I wouldn’t say any day is ever easy, but today was definitely just a bit harder than other days. It’s just so much physicality out there to make sure you’re right on top of the edge and flirting with it a lot during the race and try to chase down (Kevin Harvick). I think if roles were reversed there on that final pit stop, I don’t think (Harvick) would have got to us. I think our cars were evenly matched, and I thought we were right there with him. His car definitely turned the center a little bit better all throughout the day, and I know when he was racing with (Denny Hamlin) there, he was getting his stuff burned up pretty bad, and he was getting held up. I was just thankful that I got out there and got clear and was able to make some ground there on those guys and then before that green-flag pit stop.”

Chase Elliott – Finished 3rd: “Yeah, we had a good car. It was solid, you know? Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) made a good call there at the end, and we had a good pit stop there to get into the lead, and I just felt like I needed a little bit of drive there to put the power down in front of (winner Kevin Harvick). I had a pretty good turn those last two runs and before that I wasn’t turning good enough and too good of forward bite. So, he was definitely the car to beat, and it felt like there were a lot of laps left. I tried my best to hold him off as long as I could, but I felt like him and Kyle (Busch) had just a little bit on us. We’ll go to work and try to get better for California.”

DENNY HAMLIN – Finished 4th: “Just lacked a little speed honestly. Once we got the rear of the car hooked up there in the middle part of the race after the pit road miscue, the car took off and ran extremely well. Once we started to lose rear grip, that’s when those guys started to run us back down. We got a good baseline there to come back here in November in the playoff race, and we’ll build on that and come back. We’re running well, we’re leading laps, and we’re doing some things that are good. We just need a little bit. Obviously, I want to be a little faster and a little more consistent and eliminate some mistakes we’re making on pit road.”

Martin Truex Jr. – Finished 5th: “Just a solid day for us, not a great day and not what we were hoping for. There were times in the race where we were really good and just lost some track position there with about 100 or 80 to go. We had one run that went really long that we got really bad on, but overall today we were pretty close. We just lost a little there and felt like we could have run second or third maybe – one run we were as good as anyone, just couldn’t get perfect all day.”

Clint Bowyer – Finished 6th: “It was a solid day. We just have to get better as a team. I buried us a little bit in qualifying. It was a good run for us. A good run for Stewart-Haas Racing. We weren’t very good here last year. We sucked as a matter of fact, so that is a breath of fresh air after stubbing our toe last week. Having a good run today is definitely some positive mojo going.” 

Aric Almirola – Finished 7th: “We just keep plugging away. Johnny (Klausmeier, crew chief) and the guys made a lot of good adjustments on the car throughout the day. We started off okay and then we started dialing ourselves out the first few stops. We got some track position there with that two-tire call and got our Smithfield Ford Fusion up front, and it really liked the clean air. Our car got a lot better up there. I am proud of everybody. We just keep building on it. Top-10 ‘em to death. Just keep scoring points and doing what we do.”

DANIEL SUÁREZ – Finished 8th: “We didn’t have a winning car, but we had a good, solid top-10 car all race long. We made a couple of mistakes there with adjustments and on pit road, but we were able to overcome. Those mistakes were early in the race that we were able to overcome. I am just excited. We really needed something like this. We have had fast race cars and have had some issues and bad luck and stuff like that. Finally we were able to make it work.”

Erik Jones – Finished 9th: “It was kind of a struggle all day. The SportClips Camry fired off really tight, and we had to fight all day to get it back to the balance we were looking for. We got it close there at the end. We were finally getting where we needed to be and came in sixth on the pit stop and got some damage on pit road. We had to go to the back, and it just went green until the end. It was nice to be able to get back to ninth to get a top 10, but it would have been nice to race up there in the top five. We’ll keep working at it. We just have to keep working on some stuff and some adjustments we make overnight and fire off these races a little bit closer. We’ll keep working that way and come out strong for the next one.”

Kurt Busch – Finished 10th: “The car responded well to my steering and gas inputs. I was a little slow on restarts, but I love being able to lean on the right-rear tire and make passes later in the run. Our strategy unfolded the best it could have to win Stage 2 and get back in the top 10. We just didn’t run the same lap times we did at the end as we did at the beginning of the race, but all in all, it was a good day.”

Ryan Newman – Finished 11th: “The one thing we struggled to do last season was to lead laps and now we’ve led in two races so far. It’s great to see the RCR Chevys up front. Our biggest challenge was maintaining track position, and it is pretty evident what we need to work on, and I’m sure we’ll get it resolved. I’m just proud to have contended because the more laps we lead will soon convert into wins.”

William Byron – Finished 12th: “I think the two tires worked for us, just the way our car was handling. We were really tight all day, and we couldn’t really get that out of it. But the middle stage of the race, we started running closer to the top 10, ninth or 10th I think, and that was the perfect call at the time. I was a little, I guess, not sure if it was going to work out just because we had done it already one time. But it worked out. We could kind of keep some clean air, and I think that was a net gain for sure.”

Alex Bowman – Finished 13th: “Yeah, it was a frustrating day. I don’t know if we had brake fans or not because we didn’t have any other fans, everything inside the car quit. My helmet blower quit, everything quit. It was hot. I burnt my feet pretty good, but the race car wasn’t bad. Just my trackbar quit when everything else quit, so I had no adjustment all day, too. We overcame a lot. I sped on pit road, when I swerved to miss some debris. Had some bad pit stops and rebounded from it. We will take 13th for as rough as today was.”

Jimmie Johnson – Finished 14th: “We certainly made the car better throughout the course of the weekend. We got up to eighth and then had some pit strategy kind of work against us and fell back into the teens again, and it’s just so stinking hard to pass. I think if we could have stayed up there in that top 10 where we were, we would have finished there, but once we got mired back and had to start all over again, it was just a long grind.”

Kyle Larson – Finished 18th: “(The spin) definitely wasn’t a tire going down. We’ve had, all weekend, like a wheel hop, tire chatter, some issue like that. It’s hard to kind of tell what it is. I feel like it just starts as soon as I get to the brakes and turn the wheel, and then I just start wheel hopping. I fought it all day yesterday and was hoping that we could fix it. We still had the issue in the race. It was fairly annoying having the tires bounce around underneath you, but hopefully we will figure out what was going on all weekend with our setup and come back later in the year better.”

Kasey Kahne – Finished 24th: “I was on the loose side the whole race.  So, that made it a little tough to do anything on restart, usually we would get taken advantage of, but it would actually come in alright, just kind of stalled out.”

Ty Dillon – Finished 30th: “Our GEICO Camaro ZL1 fired off great to start the race because we were tight, and that worked well for us on the green racetrack. Once the track started to rubber up and change, we were too tight. I tagged the wall there in the middle of the first stage and had body damage to the right rear of the car that we needed to fix. We worked on the damage on every stop after that until the fender was clear, and my team kept adjusting the car to keep my balance in a good spot throughout the race. We had some good moments today in being able to muscle around the cars in front of us and using strategy at the end of Stage 2 to pick up our first stage points of the season. We know that we need to be in a position each week to get more of those points because they are so critical, and we’re going to get there. I have no doubt about this team’s ability and the fight that we’ll put up to keep growing and improving.”

Paul Menard – Finished 36th: “I think the tire went down. The right-rear tire blew. Not sure what caused it (Goodyear later said it was a melted bead on the right-rear tire). Maybe bead temp or something. It is a disappointing day for sure. We made some good adjustments early and I thought we would be OK. I had a hard time getting in the corner that last run and we started backing up, then something happened to the tire.”