NASCAR issues four-race suspension to Kyle Busch’s crew chief for wheel coming off

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NASCAR issued four-race suspensions each to Kyle Busch‘s crew chief, Adam Stevens, along with tire changer Jacob Seminara and tire carrier Kenneth Barber for a tire rolling off Busch’s car early in Sunday’s race at Dover International Speedway.

They will miss races at Pocono, Michigan, Sonoma and Daytona. They’ll be eligible to return July 8 at Kentucky Speedway.

Joe Gibbs Racing stated it will not appeal the penalties. Engineer Ben Beshore will serve as acting crew chief for the No. 18 team in place of Stevens. Anwar Parrish will serve as the rear tire carrier, and Adam Hartman will serve as the rear tire changer.

NASCAR also issued the same penalty to Chase Briscoe‘s crew chief, Mike Hillman Jr., along with tire changer Wesley McPherson and tire carrier Eric Pinkiert for a tire rolling off in the Camping World Truck race last weekend at Dover.

They will miss races at Texas, Gateway, Iowa and Kentucky. They’ll be eligible to return July 19 at Eldora Speedway.

Brad Keselowski Racing issued a statement: “We are disappointed in the penalty that Mike Hillman Jr. and members of our pit crew received following the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event in Dover. We are currently considering our options under the appeal process outlined in the NASCAR rulebook. Buddy Sisco will serve as Chase Briscoe’s crew chief in the interim.”

Kyle Busch’s pit crew did not attach the left rear wheel before Busch left his pit stall early in Sunday’s race at Dover International Speedway. The wheel soon rolled off the car.

That incident happened two days after Brad Keselowski Racing’s team failed to properly attach the left front wheel on Chase Briscoe’s truck before he exited pit road. The wheel soon rolled off.

Section 12.5.2.6.3.c of the Cup and Truck rule books state: “Loss of wheel(s) due to improper installation will result in a mandatory minimum four Race suspension of the crew chief, tire changer and tire carrier of the lost wheel(s).’’

Section 12.5.2.6.3.a of both rule books also state that “safety violations will be handled on a case-by-case basis.’’

The day after the wheel came off Briscoe’s truck at Dover, team owner Brad Keselowski said a four-race suspension to his crew chief, tire changer and tire carrier would be severe and sought a lesser penalty.

“I think when it comes to issues like this, I try to always step back and see it from a bigger picture and I hope NASCAR does as well,” Keselowski said. “At the end of the day intent matters. The intent of the rule was to make sure guys don’t put three lug nuts on and have a wheel come off and say, ‘Awe, too bad’.

“That isn’t what happened in the scenario we had. So I think the rule’s intent maybe covers something that didn’t happen. It was a mistake. And we discussed those scenarios. It’s the difference between murder and manslaughter. Intent matters. Certainly, we’re glad that nobody got hurt or there wasn’t any of those types of issues. It doesn’t excuse that kind of stuff. It’s tough scenario for me personally because as an owner over there, we somewhat pride ourselves in not using Cup driver and Cup pit crews and all those things.

“What I’m looking for out of that endeavor and that series is to develop people and give back to the sport. It’s not really giving back to the sport if I put a Cup driver in or hire a Cup pit crew. That’s really not giving back to the sport at all. But on the flip side when you have issues like we had, which is a pit crew that is still developing and inexperienced … they made a mistake. When you have an issue like that which endorses a penalty, that is as costly as that one is according to the current rule, you have to step back and ask yourself, ‘If I had a Cup pit crew, would that have happened?’ And the answer is probably ‘No’.

“So I think the penalties in those series have to be reflective of what they are, they’re developmental series. That was a developmental issue. A guy who really learned a tough lesson. If the penalty is very severe, very harsh, that’s the end of developmental pit crews for my team. We can’t take that. We can’t afford that and that will have serious ramifications for the series and the ability to develop people. It’s a tough question. It’s a tough box that NASCAR is put in to try and enforce rules that are pretty much black and white. They have a tough call to make that will have serious ramifications both in the series we compete and but also as a precedent for all three series.”

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Hailie Deegan: Road courses are ‘one of my stronger suites’

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Many drivers will be navigating the Daytona road course for the first time this weekend.

Hailie Deegan is not one of them.

Deegan, who competes in the ARCA Menards Series, will be in the field when the series takes to the 14-turn, 3.61-mile circuit for practice and a race Friday evening (5 p.m. ET on Trackpass).

“I’m pretty excited because this was not one of the races we had planned on our schedule,” Deegan told NBCSN’s Kelli Stavast earlier this week. “At the beginning of the year I saw all the races, obviously to see which ones you’re looking forward to, like your favorites and stuff and obviously this on wasn’t on there.  … I like road courses. I raced at Sonoma about twice (in ARCA Menards West). I was decent there, I qualified on the pole one of the times (2019) there against a lot of good drivers. It was a confirmation that, ‘Ok, we’re decent at road courses.'”

Deegan, who enters the race fourth in the point standings behind Michael Self, first got a shot at the road course at the beginning of the year. As a Ford development driver, she took part in multiple days of testing before competing in a Michelin Pilot Challenge race in a GT4 Mustang.

“I would not say I’m perfect at road courses,” Deegan said. “But I feel that’s one of my stronger suites. I’m trying to learn this whole stock car world. Circle track, everything like that, that’s all been a foreign concept. So everything I’m learning I’m learning for the first time. But when we go back to road courses, I grew up in go karting, I grew up racing off-road trucks on courses where you turn right and left. So that’s not a foreign concept to me. So I feel more comfortable on road courses, especially with us only getting an hour of practice and all the time I have on that track.

“I have so many days of practice from the beginning of the year on that track. Obviously, it’s a different car, a GT4 Mustang.  … It’s easy to drive, but hard to be fast in an IMSA car. (While) the stock cars are harder to drive, but you have that experience, I feel like you can have a little bit of an advantage over people.”

With eight races left in the season, Deegan will try to take that advantage to victory lane for his first career ARCA win. The last time she visited Daytona in February, she finished second in the season opener to Self.

NASCAR’s weekend schedule for Daytona road course

Daytona road course
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For the first time this weekend, NASCAR will compete on the Daytona road course.

All three of NASCAR’s national series and the ARCA Menards Series will take to the 14-turn, 3.61-mile circuit, culminating in Sunday’s Cup Series race.

This weekend takes the place of the race at Watkins Glen International for Cup and Xfinity.

Kevin Harvick will start on the pole for Sunday’s Cup race. Austin Cindric will lead the Xfinity field to green on Saturday.

Here is the weekend schedule for the Daytona road course.

(All times Eastern)

Thursday, Aug. 13

10:30 a.m. – ARCA driver-spotter-crew chief meeting (electronic communication)

11 – 11:30 a.m. – ARCA rookie meeting (teleconference)

11:30 a.m. – Noon – ARCA crew chief meeting (teleconference)

3 – 4 p.m. – ARCA haulers enter (screening in progress)

5:30 – 7:30 p.m. – Driver motorhome parking (screening in progress)

 

Friday, Aug. 14

9 a.m. – ARCA garage opens

9 a.m. – 4 p.m. – ARCA garage access screening in progress

2 – 3 p.m. – ARCA practice

3:30 p.m. – Xfinity rookie meeting (electronic communication)

4 p.m. – Xfinity driver-crew chief meeting (electronic communication)

4:50 p.m. – ARCA drivers report to their cars

5 p.m. – ARCA race; 28 laps/101.08 miles miles (MAVTV, Motor Racing Network)

6 p.m. – Truck Series driver-crew chief meeting (electronic communication)

7:30 p.m. – ARCA haulers exit

 

Saturday, Aug. 15

6 – 8:30 a.m. – Xfinity haulers enter (screening and equipment upload)

8:30 a.m. – Xfinity garage opens

8:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. – Garage screening in progress

2 – 4 p.m. – Truck Series haulers enter (screening in progress and equipment unload)

2:50 p.m. – Xfinity drivers report to cars

3 p.m. – Xfinity race; 52 laps/187.72 miles (NBCSN, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

4 – 7 p.m. – Truck Series garage access screening in progress

4 – 8 p.m. – Truck Series garage open

4:30 – 5 p.m. – Truck Series rookie meeting (teleconference)

4:30 p.m. – Cup rookie meeting (electronic communication)

5 p.m. – Cup driver-crew chief meeting (electronic communication)

5:30 p.m. – Xfinity haulers exit

 

Sunday, Aug. 16

6 – 8 a.m. – Cup haulers enter (screening in progress and equipment unload)

8 a.m. – Cup garage opens

8 a.m. – 2 p.m.  – Cup garage access screening in progress

9 a.m. – Truck Series garage opens

9 – 11 a.m. – Truck Series garage access screening in progress

11:40 a.m. – Truck Series drivers report to vehicles

Noon – Truck Series race; 44 laps/158.85 miles (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

2:30 p.m. – Truck Series haulers exit

2:50 p.m. – Cup drivers report to cars

3 p.m. – Cup race; 65 laps/234.65 miles (NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

6:30 p.m. – Cup haulers exit

NASCAR updates its COVID-19 guidelines

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NASCAR issued an update to teams to the sanctioning body’s COVID-19 guidelines this week.

If after 10 days, a NASCAR member is unable to produce two negative PCR tests, their return status may be medically reviewed by a NASCAR Consulting physician. Previously, a NASCAR member needed to have two negative tests more than 24 hours apart and a note from their physician to be cleared to compete.

MORE: Spencer Davis cleared to race after COVID-19 recovery

Truck Series driver Spencer Davis is the third driver to be cleared to resume racing after a positive test. He missed last week’s race at Michigan. Jimmie Johnson missed the Indianapolis race in July after a positive test. Brendan Gaughan is racing this weekend for the first time since he tested positive for COVID-19 in July.

NASCAR cites new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with updating the sport’s COVID-19 guidelines.

“As we’ve said since our return, NASCAR’s health and safety plans will continue to evolve, with the goal remaining the same – a safe event for both our competitors and the communities in which we race,” said John Bobo, NASCAR vice president, racing operations, in a statement. “NASCAR will continue to implement and execute a comprehensive plan to ensure the health and safety of our competitors and the surrounding communities.”

Here are NASCAR’s updated COVID-19 guidelines:

Confirmed Positive Cases – Symptomatic and Asymptomatic Cases. Confirmed positive cases may return to racing activities after they have received two negative test results taken at least 24 hours apart.

A. If after 10 days, a NASCAR Member is unable to produce two negative PCR tests, their return status may be medically reviewed by a NASCAR Consulting physician.

  • New CDC guidance of July 22, 2020, recommends discontinuing PCR testing after the conclusion of the 10-day isolation period for the onset symptoms for the initial COVID-19 infection, if a person is fever-free for a minimum of 24 hours without the use of medication.
  • Please note: Based on advice from consulting physicians, NASCAR counts the 10 days from the date of the first positive PCR test for COVID-19.
  • In its guidance, CDC research indicates that in no instances yet discovered has there been a case where the virus is able to self-replicate beyond the 10th day following a positive test among individuals who are not immunosuppressed and did not have severe disease (e.g. requiring ICU stay or ventilation), so an individual in this situation poses no harm to others.  In the event that the individual continues to be tested, it is very likely that the individual will continue to return positive results.
  • Based on this new CDC guidance, NASCAR consulting physicians would review the individual’s situation and determine if they appropriately fit the CDC requirements before being allowed to return to racing without two negative PCR tests.

B. They must also have written clearance from their personal physician to resume all racing activity.

Confirmed exposure to a positive COVID-19 person. Those exposed individuals are required to stand-down from competition and self-isolate. They may return to racing activities after they have received one negative test. NASCAR in its discretion may request a second test for clearance based on the nature of the exposure. Please note: a confirmed exposure is based on a totality of the circumstances as determined by NASCAR in consultation with their consulting physicians. Analysis will include: identifying people exposed over the last 10 days, accumulated time greater than 10 minutes, direct skin contact (shaking hands, etc.), lack of social distancing and the level of PPE use among the individuals involved in the contact.

 

Spencer Davis cleared to race after COVID-19 recovery

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After testing positive for COVID-19 last week, Truck Series driver Spencer Davis has been cleared to return to racing after missing just once race, Davis confirmed on social media Wednesday.

Davis had to have two negative COVID-19 tests more than 24 hours apart in order to be cleared to race.

Davis, 21, was the third NASCAR driver to test positive for the virus, joining Jimmie Johnson (who missed one race) and part-time driver Brendan Gaughan. 

Davis, who owns his Truck Series team, missed last weekend’s race at Michigan International Speedway and will return to the track for Sunday’s race on the Daytona International Speedway road course (Noon ET on FS1). He will start 31st.