Kyle Larson loses pole position on another inspection failure; Martin Truex Jr. starts first

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LOUDON, New Hampshire – After appearing to bounce back from a penalty, Kyle Larson’s team ran afoul of the law again Friday.

Larson turned the fastest lap (133.324 mph) in qualifying at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, but the speed was disallowed afterward for an unapproved rear deck fin on his No. 42 Chevrolet.

That put Martin Truex Jr., who won at Kentucky Speedway last weekend, on the pole position for the first time in 2017.

“Not the way we wanted to get our first pole of the year but looking forward to starting up front and getting a good pit stall,” Truex said in a statement distributed by Furniture Row Racing.

Jimmie Johnson qualified second, followed by Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray and Kasey Kahne.

NASCAR announced Larson’s disqualification at 6:50 ET, roughly 45 minutes after he seemed to have captured his fourth pole position of the season.

Larson’s car passed a prequalifying inspection, but a postrace inspection revealed that the part improperly had shifted.

Larson will start last for the second consecutive race after the latest of numerous run-ins with NASCAR inspectors. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver also started from the rear at Kentucky Speedway after failing to get through inspection in time to make a qualifying attempt (which also happened at Texas Motor Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway).

Larson is working at New Hampshire with interim crew chief Tony Lunders in place of Chad Johnston, who was suspended three races for an improper rear brake cooling assembly at Kentucky.

Larson also was docked 35 points for the infraction, knocking him from atop the standings behind Truex.

“I honestly know nothing about race cars, so I don’t honestly know what it was that got us in trouble,” Larson said Friday when asked about the Kentucky penalty. “Yeah, it was a big penalty, so it must have been something important in their eyes.”

Larson will be held 30 minutes from the final practice Saturday at New Hampshire after failing prerace inspection multiple times at Kentucky (where his car was last to be rolled to the starting grid before it completed a race-high 90 green-flag passes in finishing second).

The disallowed speed serves as the penalty for Friday’s infraction, meaning there will be no further penalties for the unapproved rear deck fin next week.

Click here for the Cup qualifying results at New Hampshire.

Two crew chiefs fined for loose lug nuts at Kentucky

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NASCAR has issued two fines to crew chiefs for loose lug nuts last weekend at Kentucky Speedway.

Brian Wilson, crew chief for Paul Menard in the Xfinity race, was fined $5,000 for a loose lug nut. Menard finished ninth.

Kevin Bellicourt, crew chief for Justin Haley in the Camping World Truck Series, was fined $2,500 for a loose lug nut. Haley finished 10th.

There were no other penalties.

NASCAR America: ‘Big 3’ achieves mark not reached since 1974

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The drivers labelled the “Big 3” keep reaching new milestones as they tear through the 2018 Cup season.

Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. are the only drivers to win on 1.5-mile tracks this season, sweeping all seven so far.

They’ve combined to win 14 of the first 19 races this season, with Truex claiming the latest on Saturday at Kentucky Speedway.

Truex’s win gives him four this season while Busch and Harvick have five each.

With Truex’s victory, the “Big 3” are the first trio of drivers to win four or more races each through 19 races since 1974.

That year, the “Big 3” were Cale Yarborough (eight wins), Richard Petty (six) and David Pearson (four).

On NASCAR America, Steve Letarte said despite their dominance so far, he doesn’t believe all three members of the “Big 3” will make the Championship 4 in November.

“I don’t think the three in any way shape or form are guaranteed to make Miami,” Letarte said. “Everybody’s ready to put the ‘Big 3’ in Miami in the final four, I’m not. There’s way too many challenges along the way. I’m confident that all three won’t be at Homestead.”

Watch the videos above and below for more.

Cup teams to test Charlotte road course today

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The second half of Cup tests on Charlotte’s road course will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET today. It is open to the public.

Testing today are: Kyle Busch, Erik Jones, Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola, Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Jamie McMurray, Alex Bowman, William Byron, Austin Dillon, AJ Allmendinger, Trevor Bayne and Ty Dillon. Chris Buescher is in a Chevy wheelforce car.

Last week, several Cup drivers tested on the course for a day. Bubba Wallace crashed early and left the test because his team did not have a backup car.

Jimmie Johnson had the fastest lap in last week’s session, according to NASCAR timing and scoring. Johnson had a lap at 1 minute, 17.4 seconds. Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin each had a lap at 1:17.5 last week.

 

 

 

NASCAR America: Paul Menard, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. among winners, losers at Kentucky

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On Monday’s NASCAR America, Steve Letarte and Jeff Burton discussed the winners and losers among drivers in Saturday’s Cup race at Kentucky Speedway.

Letarte singled out Ricky Stenhouse Jr. as one of the losers after he failed to overtake Alex Bowman in the playoff standings. Bowman entered the race as the last driver above the cutoff line for the 16 driver field in the playoffs.

Bowman earned his first DNF after he crashed from a flat tire and finished last.

Meanwhile, Stenhouse finished 26th, one lap down after he had to pit twice early in Stage 1, the first time for a cut tire. He is now nine points behind Bowman for the final playoff spot.

“To only gain 10 points on a driver who finished last in the field is a huge missed opportunity,” Letarte said. “When you look at drivers scoring 30, 40, 50 points each, Paul Menard picked up over 30. So the chance was there to gain (on) that bigger group and he just didn’t do it. So when I look at what Ricky Stenhouse did, he really missed probably 15 or 20 points. I know it was a flat tire, there’s always a reason. But in the end you have to make the playoffs, you have to go out there and take it from Alex Bowman, who has put him in that position.”

Burton picked Menard as a winner. The Wood Brothers Racing driver placed 11th Saturday after finishing fifth in Stage 1 and 10th in Stage 2.

He is now 18th in the standings, 23 points back from Bowman

“They performed well, got good stage finishes and did what they needed to do,” Burton said. “This team is starting to get a little bit better every single week. I find it very interesting that back there for that 16th spot it’s really a fight of mediocrity, to be honest with you, and who is going to not mess up.”

Watch the above video for more.