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Four Cup crew chiefs fined for unsecured lug nuts at Martinsville

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NASCAR has fined four Cup crew chiefs $10,000 each for an unsecure lug nut on their cars following Monday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

It fined Chad Johnston, crew chief for Kyle Larson; Justin Alexander, crew chief for Austin Dillon; Derrick Finley, crew chief for Michael McDowell and Jeremy Bullins, crew chief for Ryan Blaney.

No other penalties were issued.

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NASCAR issues two fines for unsecured lug nuts at Auto Club Speedway

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NASCAR announced two crew chief fines for unsecured lug nuts last weekend at Auto Club Speedway.

Adam Stevens, crew chief on Kyle Busch‘s No. 18 Toyota, was fined $10,000 for one unsecured lug nut.

In the Xfinity Series, Eric Phillips, the crew chief for Ryan Preece‘s No. 18 Toyota, was fined $5,000 for an unsecured lug nut.

No other penalties were announced.

Clint Bowyer’s crew chief suspended one race for Martinsville post-race infraction

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Mike Bugarewicz, crew chief for Clint Bowyer‘s No. 14 Chevrolet owned by Stewart-Haas Racing, has been suspended one Cup race and fined $25,000 for a L1 infraction at Martinsville Speedway.

Bowyer’s car violated Section 20.18.5.2 of the rule book for its TV Video Package simulated weight not meeting NASCAR specifications.

The weight is meant to simulate on-board cameras that are on select cars.

Bowyer’s team was also docked 10 driver and owner points and Bowyer’s third-place finish is encumbered. It was Bowyer’s first top-five finish since Watkins Glen in August.

SHR will not appeal the penalty or suspension. Richard Boswell, crew chief on the team’s No. 41 car in the Xfinity Series, has been named interim crew chief.

NASCAR also fined Daniel Suarez‘ crew chief, Scott Graves, and Ty Dillon‘s crew chief, Robert Barker, $10,000 each for having one unsecured lug nut each on their car.

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Text chain helps drivers receive clarification from NASCAR on securing lug nuts outside box

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CHARLOTTE – NASCAR Cup drivers confused over the lack of a penalty to Jimmie Johnson’s team Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway sought clarity in the most 21st century of ways.

Their smartphones.

Denny Hamlin, the founder of the series’ Drivers Council, said a text chain his group uses with NASCAR executives Scott Miller and Steve O’Donnell helped explain why Johnson didn’t receive a penalty for his team securing lug nuts outside its pit stall.

“I had questions along with many other drivers,” Hamlin said Tuesday during a news conference to unveil his No. 11 Toyota’s Martinsville paint scheme that highlights a FedEx partnership with Walgreens. “So I went to our Driver Council texts, and Miller and O’Donnell both explained it the same way as they did everyone else. I thought for sure it was a penalty, but I can also see sometimes you’re gassing the car as the cars are rolling through the pit stall, and that’s not ever a penalty.

“I think it’s kind of a judgment call. The way they explained to me is that they chose for it not to be a penalty; not that anything is written black and white in the rulebook about being able to secure lug nuts outside the pit box.”

Miller explained in a Monday interview on SiriusXM Satellite Radio why NASCAR hadn’t communicated the policy to teams.

During a test at Martinsville, Kyle Larson said he didn’t agree with the call because NASCAR’s rulebook says that service must be completed within the pit stall (NASCAR officials have said Johnson wasn’t penalized because the team tightened lug nuts – a maneuver to ensure safety — after the stop was complete).

“I’m sure Jimmie and their team would agree … they didn’t follow the rule,” Larson said. “I would like to see NASCAR just use the rule, make us back all the way up to our pit stall like we typically do. I know I think they said that him losing spots on pit road was already a penalty in itself. Not really, because if he would have gotten the penalty he deserved, he would have been behind the lapped cars.

“I don’t think it was the right penalty. I would hope that if it happens to us or anybody else they would do the right thing.”

Hamlin said the Drivers Council primarily started the text chain with NASCAR officials to set times for meetings, but it also is used for communication in other ways (such as this clarification). “We constantly have advice for O’Donnell and Miller,” he said.

Contributing: Dustin Long in Martinsville

Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s interim crew chief for Richmond will be car chief Travis Mack

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. will have car chief Travis Mack as the interim crew chief on the No. 88 Chevrolet for Saturday’s regular-season finale at Richmond Raceway.

NASCAR announced No. 88 crew chief Greg Ives’ suspension Wednesday for Richmond after Earnhardt’s car was found with two unsecured lug nuts after Sunday’s Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

In a release, Hendrick Motorsports said it wouldn’t appeal the penalty, installing Mack, 34, as the crew chief at Richmond.

Mack has been Earnhardt’s car chief since 2015 under Ives and had worked as a mechanic at Hendrick from 2004-12 on the teams of Jeff Gordon and Earnhardt. He was the car chief at JR Motorsports’ Xfinity team from 2013-14, winning a championship with Chase Elliott.

“We have a tremendous amount of confidence in Travis and everyone on the team,” Hendrick vice president of competition Jeff Andrews said in a release. “Our people have done a great job all year with the lug nut rule. We won’t dwell on it (the penalty) and will look forward to having Greg back on the box next week at Chicagoland.”

Earnhardt, who will retire after this season, is 22nd in the points standings entering the Sept. 9 race at Richmond International Raceway, which is the last chance for making the 16-driver playoff field with a victory.