NASCAR penalizes Ryan Newman 15 points for Darlington infraction

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NASCAR docked Ryan Newman 15 points Wednesday for failing the Laser Inspection Station after Sunday’s Southern 500, making it more likely that Newman will need to win Saturday night’s Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway to make the Chase for a fourth consecutive year.

Newman’s team also was penalized 15 car owner points, and crew chief Luke Lambert was fined $25,000 for the P3 penalty.

Richard Childress Racing stated it would not appeal the penalty.

“We do not plan to appeal the penalty issued today to the No. 31 team,” the team said in a statement. “Our rear toe settings were well within specs during pre-race inspection. The car made contact with the outside wall during the race and there was clear damage to the right rear fender and tire. NASCAR has told us that the LIS standard is clear and the car must pass post-race inspection even if damage has been sustained.” 

Section 8.3 of the Sprint Cup Rule Book describes vehicle eligibility.

Section 8.3.b states: “Only race equipment determined by NASCAR to meet the applicable specifications is eligible to compete in the Event.

Section 8.3.c states: “Such determination may be made by NASCAR at any time before, during or after the Event, and may take into account, to the extent deemed reasonable by NASCAR in the interests of racing competition and fairness, any modifications caused or required as a result of damage caused by In-Race accidents.”

Newman is the first driver out of a transfer spot for the playoffs. With the penalty, he is 22 points behind Jamie McMurray for the final spot. While it’s possible for Newman to make the playoffs on points, he would need for McMurray to have trouble and have a bad finish. McMurray has finished ahead of Newman in each of the last four races at Richmond.

Three of the 16 playoff spots remain open to non-winners this season. With the penalty, Chase Elliott leads Newman by 39 points and Richard Childress Racing teammate Austin Dillon leads Newman by 31 points.

Should Newman win, he’d make the Chase.

Also, Kyle Larson‘s team was penalized for failing the Laser Inspection Station after the Southern 500. NASCAR docked Larson 15 points, his team 15 car owner points and fined crew chief Chad Johnston $22,500 for the P2 penalty. Larson’s penalty was increased 50 percent because his team had received a P3 penalty within the past six months. The team was penalized after the Pocono race for a missing lug nut.

Newman lost 10 points in March when he and his team were penalized – along with his Richard Childress Racing teammates – for illegal brackets discovered in inspection before the Feb. 28 Atlanta race.