Matt Kenseth: ‘We shouldn’t be talking about a laser machine after the race’

Matt Kenseth said a part broke during this celebratory burnout after his July victory at New Hampshire, causing his car to fail the laser.
Jerry Markland/Getty Images
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Matt Kenseth believes in checking cars before and after Sprint Cup races but said the recent spate of laser inspection failures does raise questions about the current process.

“I wish there was a better way to do it,” Kenseth told a group of reporters Wednesday at NASCAR Plaza during a round of media promotion for Sunday’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. “Because we should be sitting here talking about Chase Elliott almost getting his first win (at Chicagoland Speedway), Martin (Truex Jr.) coming through at the end and getting a win, the first round of the Chase and trying to win championships.

“We shouldn’t be sitting talking about a laser machine after the race.”

The laser inspection has dominated much of the discussion since Sunday night when the cars of Truex and Jimmie Johnson both failed the postrace laser inspection system, which ensures teams have a properly aligned rear suspension.

NASCAR was expected to announce penalties Wednesday for Truex and Johnson, who likely will be hit with a 10-point deduction that would damage his playoff hopes over the next two races of the first round. Because NASCAR ruled his win in the playoff opener still would count toward advancement, Truex will be in the second round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup regardless of a points penalty. Last week, NASCAR issued new rules delineating how finishes and wins can be “encumbered” — which would prevent teams from advancing in the Chase or winning a championship — based on the severity of the violation

To prevent teams from using “skew” to gain sideforce that provides an aerodynamic advantage, NASCAR has cracked down in recent years by mandating parts, torque levels and welding restrictions.

Kenseth believes there are enough safeguards in place that if a car passes the LIS in prerace, the postrace inspection can be done without the laser.

“I feel like if it’s right before it goes out for the race, and then when they take all the pieces apart after the race again and everything is legal and torqued right and the right pieces are in there, then I question whether we really need to roll across the (laser) platform afterward,” the Joe Gibbs Racing driver said. “As long as something wasn’t done during the race — you don’t see someone come in and shorten track bars or do something to obviously cheat the situation. But that’s just my opinion. There might be way more to it than that.

“But obviously no one likes to see penalties after a race whether it’s a race winner, no matter where you finish. I don’t think the competitors like to see it. I know the fans don’t like to see it. I know the teams don’t like to see it. I know NASCAR doesn’t like to see it. If there’s a rule we’ve got to conform to it, and if there’s a better way to do it where they don’t have all that happen, I’m sure they’re looking into that.”

Truex joined Kenseth as the second winner whose car didn’t meet the LIS specifications in postrace since NASCAR began using the machines this season. Truex’s team has attributed its failure to damage sustained in contact with Kevin Harvick.

Kenseth’s No. 20 Toyota was hit with a P3 penalty for failing the LIS after a July 17 victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Kenseth attributed the infraction to a broken part during his celebratory burnout.

“(The team is) over 90% convinced it failed while I was doing a burnout,” he said. “I didn’t drive it in the fence like a lot of people do. I didn’t do anything. I just did a burnout and was told it was plenty safe, don’t worry about any of those shenanigans that some people were doing because we were all well within the rules.

“We took it apart, and NASCAR said, ‘Yeah, the part was bent. That’s why it didn’t pass,’ but they said it still doesn’t pass, which is the way it is.”

Kenseth said teams can ensure that their cars meet the strict specifications required by the LIS, “but they’re going to be giving up some performance. You could just make sure it’s way, way, way, way right. Well, everybody is trying to get to the edge of the rules, and you go through before the race, and it’s right. But man, you race for 4 hours. This measuring things in thousandths of an inch … you can’t just be so conservative to give it up. You’ve got to be able to get right next to the rule. The hard part is you get it through and have it to the rule, but yet everything moves a little bit during the race.

“I’m pretty sure if they said if it didn’t meet the LIS, you could never race again the rest of your life, that everybody would pass afterward. So there’s a way to physically get it to pass afterward, but how much performance are you going to give up? So I don’t know. I wish it wasn’t that technical.”

AJ Allmendinger to return to NASCAR Cup Series

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AJ Allmendinger is getting another shot at success in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Kaulig Racing announced Wednesday that Allmendinger, currently chasing the Xfinity Series championship, will drive full-time in Kaulig entries in the Cup Series next season.

Allmendinger raced in Cup from 2007 to 2018 but won only one time — at Watkins Glen International — across those years. He moved to the Xfinity Series part-time with Kaulig in 2019, winning on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval. He won twice in 2020 and five times in 2021 and is a favorite to win the Xfinity championship this year. He has won four Xfinity races this season, including last Sunday at Talladega.

MORE: Hailie Deegan to make Xfinity debut at Las Vegas

Allmendinger, 40, will drive Kaulig’s No. 16 car in Cup next year. Justin Haley will drive the team’s No. 31.

Chandler Smith will replace Allmendinger in the Xfinity Series next year.

“It’s crazy how the last five years of my life have gone,” Allmendinger said. “More than anything, I love this organization. I know the fans get tired of me talking about all the men and women of Kaulig Racing. This is not a race team. This is a huge family.

“There will be tough times and growing pains, for sure. But I love what they’re about, and they believe in me. I’ll be OK whether it’s good or bad.”

MORE: Chase Elliott atop NASCAR Power Rankings

Team owner Matt Kaulig said Allmendinger is “one of the best in the world at every type of track. He’s done so much for Kaulig Racing and our program. He’s a gigantic part of what we’re building.”

Team officials said Allmendinger has a multi-year contract.

 

 

 

 

 

NASCAR viewer’s guide for Charlotte Roval

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Sunday provides a final chance for drivers to advance to the Round of 8 and keep their Cup championship hopes alive.

Talladega winner Chase Elliott is the only driver who has advanced to the next round. That leaves seven spots available going into Sunday’s race at the Charlotte Roval (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

Chase Briscoe holds the final transfer spot by a tiebreaker over Austin Cindric. At least for now.

William Byron is 11 points behind both drivers, but Hendrick Motorsports will appeal Byron’s 25-point penalty from Texas on Thursday. Should Hendrick win and Byron get those points back, he would move into a transfer spot.

There’s just part of what to watch for in Sunday’s race.

Favorites to be No. 20

This season remains tied for the most different winners in series history at 19, but there are a few candidates who could become the 20th different winner this year on Sunday.

Among the favorites to do so:

Ryan Blaney, who came close to winning last week at Talladega, won the inaugural Cup race at the Roval in 2018.

Martin Truex Jr., who has four career Cup wins on road courses, still seeks his first victory of the season.

Michael McDowell, who is coming off a third-place finish at Talladega, has had a career-high 12 top-10 finishes this season, including top 10s in each of the last four road course events this year.

Will history repeat?

Last year, the four drivers eliminated after the Roval were Kevin Harvick, Alex Bowman, Christopher Bell and William Byron.

Harvick was eliminated in the first round this year, but Byron (-11 to the cutline) and Bell (-33) are in jeopardy of being eliminated in this round again. Bowman stated Tuesday that he will miss his second consecutive race because of continued concussion symptoms. He will be among the four eliminated from title contention.

Bowman missed last weekend’s race because of concussion-like symptoms suffered at Texas. A decision on if he’ll be able to race at the Roval will come later this week.

Will chaos continue?

Consider what some of the former Roval winners have endured on their way to the checkered flag:

In 2019, Chase Elliott drove into the Turn 1 wall on a restart while the leader. He recovered to win.

In 2020, Elliott overcame a loose wheel to win for the second year in a row.

In 2021, Kyle Larson won after his team changed batteries and put the alternator belt back on.

Could a similar fate be in store for this year’s winner? Or will they have a cleaner day?

Entry lists

Thirty-nine drivers are entered including IndyCar driver Conor Daly, former Formula 1 driver Daniil Kvyat, former 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Mike Rockenfeller and former 24 Hours of Daytona winner Joey Hand. JJ Yeley will drive the No. 51 for Cody Ware, who stated that he would skip this event because of his ankle injury at Texas the footwork needed on a road course.

Charlotte Roval Cup entry list

The Xfinity entry list includes 41 drivers for 38 spots. Among those joining the series regulars are IndyCar driver Marco Andretti and former F1 driver Daniil Kvyat.

Charlotte Roval Xfinity entry list

This week’s schedule and forecast

(All times Eastern)

Saturday, Oct. 8

Forecast: Partly cloudy with a high of 66 degrees. No chance of rain during the Xfinity race.

  • 10 – 10:30 a.m. — Xfinity practice (NBC Sports App)
  • 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. — Xfinity qualifying (NBC Sports App)
  • 12 – 1 p.m. — Cup practice (NBC Sports App, USA Network coverage begins at 12:30 p.m.)
  • 1 – 2 p.m. — Cup qualifying (USA Network, NBC Sports App)
  • 3 p.m. — Xfinity race (67 laps, 155.44 miles; NBC, Peacock, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, Oct. 9

Forecast: Sunny with a high of 64 degrees. No chance of rain during the race.

  • 2 p.m. — Cup race (109 laps, 252.88 miles; NBC, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

 

Hailie Deegan to make Xfinity debut at Las Vegas

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Hailie Deegan announced Tuesday that she will make her Xfinity Series debut Oct. 15 Las Vegas Motor Speedway on NBC and Peacock.

The 21-year-old Deegan is in her second full-time season in the Camping World Truck Series. She finished a career-high sixth in that series last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.

She will drive the No. 07 car for SS Green Light Racing with Jeff Lefcourt.

 

 

Alex Bowman to miss Charlotte Roval race

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Alex Bowman announced Tuesday night on social media that he will sit out this weekend’s Cup playoff race at the Charlotte Roval.

Bowman said on social media: “I am continuing to make strides in my recovery to make sure I can return to competition at 100%.”

This will be the second consecutive race he will have missed because of concussion-like symptoms after his crash at Texas Motor Speedway.

Noah Gragson will drive the No. 48 car this weekend for Bowman.

“Alex’s health is our first priority,” said Jeff Andrews, president and general manager of Hendrick Motorsports, in a statement. “We’re focused on supporting his recovery and seeing him back in his race car when the time is right. Alex has a long career ahead of him, so we will invest the necessary time and take our guidance from medical experts. We’re putting no pressure on him to return before he’s 100% ready.”

Bowman will be one of the four drivers eliminated from title contention Sunday.

Also Tuesday, Cody Ware announced that he will sit out this weekend’s Cup race at the Charlotte Roval, as he continues to recover from the ankle injury he suffered at Texas.