Elliott Sadler will race for Xfinity championship minus crew chief

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AVONDALE, Ariz. – NASCAR will suspend Kevin Meendering, crew chief for Elliott Sadler, for next weekend’s championship race because Sadler’s car had two loose lug nuts after Saturday night’s race at Phoenix International Raceway.

The penalty for two loose lug nuts (out of 20 on the car)  is that the crew chief is suspended for one race and is fined $10,000.

This is the second consecutive weekend the team has had at least one loose lug nut after the race. Meendering was fined $5,000 last weekend for having one lug nut loose after the Texas race.

Scott Miller, NASCAR vice president of competition, told NBC Sports that inspectors found two lug nuts not secure against the wheel Saturday night. The rule states that the lug nuts must be safe and secure against the wheel.

Sadler said he’s unsure who will be his crew chief at this point. Former crew chief Ryan Pemberton is JR Motorsports’ director of competition and would be a likely choice. He was last a crew chief in 2014 for the team with Regan Smith.

“It’s going to be tough,” Sadler said of losing Meendering for the title race. “No driver wants to go to Homestead with a chance of legitimately winning a championship and not have your right-hand man sidekick there with you, but we still have a chance to win it so we can’t count ourselves out of it.”