Crew chief Todd Gordon explained the penalty that led to his two-race suspension, saying a part was about 1/32 of an inch off after last weekend’s win at Richmond International Raceway.
NASCAR also fined Gordon $50,000 and docked Joey Logano 25 points and Team Penske 25 car owner points after Logano’s winning car from Richmond failed inspection at the R&D Center. NASCAR stated Logano’s win would not count toward playoff eligibility and he would not receive the five playoff points.
The team violated the rule that states “a pinion angle shim mating surface … must be in complete contact … at all times.”
Gordon was on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Friday to discuss the penalty and what’s next for the team.
“We take penalties with a lot of seriousness and try to identify how that happened and where procedurally we missed and understanding the bounds of what has to happen to make sure we don’t have issues like this,’’ Gordon said. “We’ve been through that. There’s some investigations going on internally. I think we understand the direction that we need to go, and we’ll make sure we’re not putting ourselves in that situation anymore.’’
Team Penske announced Thursday that it will not appeal the penalty. Gordon will miss this weekend’s race at Talladega Superspeedway and next weekend’s race at Kansas Speedway. Race engineer Miles Stanley will serve as Logano’s crew chief this weekend. Greg Erwin, a crew chief in the organization’s Xfinity program, will help call race strategy Sunday.
Gordon said on “The Morning Drive” that there was a gap of about 1/32 inch between the pinion shim and the truck arm surface on the right truck arm.
Gordon explained what happened:
“In order for the suspension to actually move, parts have to bend. … If every part is infinitely stiff, the system won’t move. It needs to have something flexing. It’s a small amount of flex, but there are parts that move. Through 400 laps at Richmond and how many pit stops and pit road launches and restarts, things move a little bit.
“It was legal when it rolled across the NASCAR inspection platform to start with (before the race), and I would say just race loads and everything else, it became low enough in load that the back of the pinion gap opened up a 32nd of an inch.’’
Gordon also said: “If you look at our rear suspension … there’s not really a whole lot of tomfoolery that goes on to hide something like this. We don’t work that way at Team Penske, try to stay on the up and up and push the things to where we can. Pre-race, there was not a gap there.’’
Gordon noted that NASCAR rewrote rules regarding suspension pieces in the offseason “because everybody chases the skew word. That’s a hot topic within the garage. I think that’s one thing I’d like to point out. This is a right side truck arm. With the track bar being attached to the left side truck arm, most of all the pieces, at least from what I understand and maybe I’m missing some things, all the skew-related pieces are going to happen on the left side.
“This wasn’t anything that was pertaining to skew, that’s a word that everybody uses and that’s how the cars kind of run sideways down the race track, which helps them aerodynamically. We weren’t in that situation.’’