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Points penalty won’t affect Matt Tifft’s position in playoffs

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NASCAR penalized an Xfinity Series playoff team Wednesday, but it won’t affect its points position entering the Round of 8 that begins next week at Kansas Speedway.

Matt Tifft’s No. 19 Toyota was docked 10 drivers and owners points for being found too low after finishing ninth Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The deduction is applied after the Round of 12 cutoff race and before the points were reset for the next round. Tifft still advances because he was 16 points ahead of the cutoff line, though the Joe Gibbs Racing driver will be without crew chief Matt Beckman, who was suspended from the next race.

Tifft will begin the next round in eighth place with 3,004 points, 22 behind leader William Byron.

The No. 11 Chevrolet of Blake Koch also was found to be too low, earning a 10-point deduction and one-race suspension for crew chief Chris Rice. Koch already was eliminated from the playoffs after the three-race Round of 12.

Rice and Beckman also were fined $10,000 apiece.

In the Monster Energy Cup Series, NASCAR issued a $10,000 fine to Scott Graves, crew chief for Daniel Suarez, for an unsecure lug nut after Sunday’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

NASCAR also announced the indefinite suspension of Dennis O’Connor for violating the substance abuse policy. Crew member Reid T. Ferguson was reinstated from indefinite suspension after completing the Road to Recovery program.


NASCAR to reexamine rule that sat Joey Logano for entire practice

Dustin Long

A NASCAR executive said Monday “it’s fair for us to take a look” at the rule that forced Joey Logano to sit on pit road for an entire 50-minute practice session after his No. 22 Ford failed pre-qualifying inspection four times the day before.

Logano called the rule “a total joke” following the practice session at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The rule was addressed by Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s chief racing development officer, on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive.”

O’Donnell said the punishment was under the spotlight because no team had been handed a penalty for an entire practice session.

“So this was the first time we’ve ever had an entire practice (sat out),” O’Donnell said. “The reason the drivers are part of that is to have some teeth in the penalty. If the driver’s not part of that, we felt like teams may purposefully just continue to fail because it’s an entire team penalty and needed everybody to be part of that. We’ve done that many times this year and really hasn’t been a story because it hasn’t been the entire practice.”

Logano had to sit in his car on pit road strapped in with helmet and safety equipment on and the window net up. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was shocked when he learned of the punishment.

Logano was one of 14 drivers who missed practice time Saturday.

O’Donnell predicted the way practice penalties are handled could evolve for next season.

“I think there’s some different things we could look at in the future, maybe not for this year because we want to be fair to the rule that we’ve had in place,” O’Donnell said. “In 2018 you could look at the possibility of a driver going out to start practice and then being pulled off the track or black flagged if it’s a 20-minute penalty or whatever that may be and go that route. One of those things that until it happens in a totality of practice, it becomes more of a story and something to look at. I think it’s fair for us to take a look at that going forward.”

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Crew chiefs for Kurt Busch, Daniel Suarez fined for unsecured lug nuts

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The crew chiefs for Kurt Busch and Daniel Suarez have each been fined for having one lug nut unsecured following Sunday’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Busch’s crew chief, Tony Gibson, and Suarez’s, Scott Graves, were each fined $10,000 by NASCAR.

There were no other penalties issued from the New Hampshire race weekend.

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NASCAR hammers Kyle Larson’s team; crew chief Chad Johnston suspended for three races


Kyle Larson dropped from the regular-season points lead Wednesday, suffering a 35-point penalty for a rear brake cooling assembly violation discovered after his second-place finish Saturday at Kentucky Speedway.

Crew chief Chad Johnston was suspended for three Cup races and fined $75,000. The team also lost 35 owner points.

According to NASCAR’s penalty report: “The race finish is encumbered per Section
12.10 Encumbered Race Finishes. Ductwork or other devices are not allowed to pass from one area of the interior of the vehicle to another or to the outside of the vehicle.”

In a brief statement, Chip Ganassi Racing said it wouldn’t appeal: “We accept the penalty and will move forward.”

Kentucky winner Martin Truex Jr. (709 points) now leads the standings with eight races remaining in the regular season, 34 points ahead of Larson (675 points).

The regular-season champion will be awarded 15 playoff points, five more than the second-place points finisher. Truex, who has a series-high 13 stage wins, leads the circuit with 28 playoff points. Larson is tied with Brad Keselowski for third with 13 playoff points.

Larson’s No. 42 Chevrolet had trouble in the technical inspection lines at Kentucky throughout last weekend. His car didn’t clear in time to make a qualifying lap for the third time this season (also at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway). The Ganassi car was the last to be rolled onto the grid Saturday night, about 35 minutes before the green flag.

Larson, who started last because of the inspection failure and competed a race-high 90 green-flag passes, was asked afterward if he wanted his team to keep pushing the limits inspection, given that NASCAR has been threatening to increase punishment from practice holds to a reduction of race tire allotments.

“I don’t know,” Larson said. “I like that (crew chief) Chad (Johnston) and them pushed the limits and all that. I don’t really know how the tech process works, and I don’t know what we get in trouble with.  I don’t really pay attention to that stuff.

“Yeah, I mean, if they took tires away, that would be a huge penalty, so you’re going to have to clean it up a little bit to try and pass tech earlier than the fourth or fifth time you go through. But yeah, I mean, I like that. I like the dedication that our team has to try and push the limit, and I think it shows on the racetrack.”

Matt Tifft crew chief fined for unsecured lug nut at Dover

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Matt Beckman, crew chief for the No. 19 Toyota driven by Matt Tifft in the Xfinity Series, has been fined $5,000 for only having 19 of 20 lug nuts secured following Saturday’s race at Dover International Speedway.

Tifft finished ninth in the 200-lap race at the “Monster Mile.” It was Tifft’s third top 10 of the season.

MORE: Kyle Busch’s Cup crew chief, two other crew members suspended four races for lost tire.