A Joe Gibbs Racing executive addressed the penalty to Denny Hamlin’s winning Xfinity Series car, saying the team would “make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Crew chief Chris Gabehart was suspended two races and fined $25,000, and the team was docked 25 points because the No. 20 Toyota’s splitter didn’t meet a minimum thickness in its shape after Hamlin’s last-lap victory over William Byron at Michigan International Speedway. NASCAR ruled the win as encumbered, meaning it can’t count toward earning playoff points for the owner’s championship in Xfinity.
JGR senior vice president of racing operations Jimmy Makar said on SiriusXM Satellite Radio’s The Morning Drive that the splitter wasn’t manipulated during the race weekend at Michigan.
“The rules on the Xfinity side say your splitter has to be perfectly flat,” Makar said. “There was some shape on the splitter that didn’t quite meet the rules the way it was supposed to be. It was an unfortunate thing that happened. We were a little off what we were supposed to be. We have to look back at that and how it happened and why and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Makar confirmed the team won’t appeal the penalty.
“The rules are pretty clear,” he said. “It’s something where we were wrong with what we had there. We’ll take our penalty and move forward.”
Makar also addressed the team’s other significant news in the Xfinity news this week, installing Dave Rogers as its technical director. Rogers had been on a personal leave since March from his previous role as the No. 19 crew chief for Daniel Suarez in the Cup Series.
“We are shy on technical expertise in Xfinity and the burden is on the Cup side, so this was an opportunity to put Dave in as the technical director position on the Xfinity side,” Makar said. “It helps bring the Cup side and Xfinity side closer together.
“The way the cars are built and getting that in the Xfinity cars and also teaching younger guys the things they need to know and directions they need to be going. As we develop younger engineers and crew chiefs, this helps them to be more prepared if and when they make their step up on the Cup side.”
The NASCAR community paid tribute to World of Outlaws driver Jason Johnson, who died after a sprint car crash Saturday night at Beaver Dam (Wisconsin) Raceway.
Johnson crashed after a restart racing for the lead. Witnesses said that Johnson’s car flipped and went through billboards outside Turn 3, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Johnson won the 2016 Knoxville Nationals. He finished sixth in the points last year in the World of Outlaws.
There has been a different winner in each of the last nine Cup races at Sonoma Raceway, site of today’s Cup race. Those nine winners have been Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr., Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick.
Will there be a 10th different winner at the road course?
Here is all the information for today’s race.
(All times are Eastern)
START: Olympic gold medalist Jonny Moseley will give the command to start engines at 3:01 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:13 p.m.
DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 110 laps (218.9 miles) around the 1.99-mile road course.
STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 25. Stage 2 ends on Lap 50.
PRERACE SCHEDULE: Garage opens at 10:30 a.m. Driver/crew chief meeting is at 1 p.m. Driver introductions are at 2:20 p.m.
NATIONAL ANTHEM: Broadway Under The Stars in Sonoma Valley, Transcendence’s Meggie Cansler will perform the anthem at 2:55 p.m.
TV/RADIO: Fox Sports 1 will broadcast the race beginning at 3 p.m. Coverage begins at 1:30 p.m. Performance Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 2 p.m. and also can be heard at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will have PRN’s broadcast.
FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for a high of 80 degrees and a zero percent chance of rain at the start of the race.
LAST TIME: Kevin Harvick led the final 22 laps to win last year’s race. Clint Bowyer placed second. Brad Keselowski finished third.
STARTING LINEUP: Click here for full qualification results.
Here’s a look at who the NBC Sports staff is picking to win today’s Cup race at Sonoma Raceway.
Martin Truex Jr. He probably had the best car at Sonoma last year; his team closes the deal this season.
Kevin Harvick. No one can stop him on an oval or a road course.
William Byron pulls off a shocking win in his first Cup race at Sonoma.
Jamie McMurray seesaws through the field, but gets track position in the closing laps.
Justin Haley survived two late-race restarts to win his first career Camping World Truck Series race in the Eaton 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park.
His victory was aided by a push into turn one by rookie Todd Gilliland, who finished second.
Johnny Sauter finished third to score his 10th top-five finish in 10 races.
Myatt Snider and Zane Smith rounded out the top five. Smith was making his first career Truck start.
Click here for complete results.
Johnny Sauter maintained his points lead with a third-place finish, extending the advantage to 73 points over Noah Gragson, who finished 10th.
Brett Moffitt is third in the standings and has two wins to his credit.
Grant Enfinger and Stewart Friesen round out the top five
Hayley climbed from eighth to sixth in the standings with his win, but more importantly that victory gets him a berth into the playoffs.
Click here for the complete points standings.