Furniture Row Racing awaits word from NASCAR on roof flap issue

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NASCAR is not expected to announce until next week if Furniture Row Racing will be penalized further for a roof flap violation discovered while Martin Truex Jr.‘s car was in line for qualifying Sunday.

A series official noticed an issue with the roof flap and the car was sent back to the inspection area. The team was unable to leave the garage area in time to make a qualifying attempt. Truex will start at the rear of his qualifying race Thursday night.

“Honestly, I can’t tell you what happened,” said Joe Garone, team president, about the issue with the roof flap. “We haven’t had any conversation with NASCAR other than the fact it didn’t fit tight against the roof. Rather than push it down, which it would have gone down, they had us take it back to the inspection bay to look at it.

“I understand they wanted to look at it. Where they took the car to look at it was so far away. They kind of waited a little bit and said we were on the five-minute clock before we even left pit road and then we had to push it a quarter mile or half mile down to inspection and then get enough people over there to look at it and then we were out of time to go back out.”

If NASCAR finds an issue with a car on the qualifying grid, it has the car return to the inspection area. At most tracks, the inspection area is much closer than it is at Daytona International Speedway.

Typically, safety violations are P3 penalties or higher. If NASCAR determined such a penalty existed, it could lead to a suspension of crew chief Cole Pearn and any other team members. Garone said the team had not discussed what it might do if it had to race without Pearn.

The series races at Atlanta Motor Speedway the week after the Daytona 500. The Atlanta race is the first with the low downforce package for this season. Losing a crew chief for that race could be challenging for a team.