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Denny Hamlin’s two Darlington wins encumbered; crew chiefs each fined, suspended two races

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NASCAR announced Wednesday that Denny Hamlin’s Cup and Xfinity series wins this past weekend at Darlington Raceway were encumbered because of rear suspension violations.

Mike Wheeler, crew chief for Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota in the Cup Series, has been suspended for two races, meaning he would miss the Sept. 17 playoff opener at Chicagoland Speedway. .

While Hamlin will be the winner of record for both races, he will not get credit for the five playoff points from the NASCAR Cup victory in the Bojangles’ Southern 500 because of an L1 penalty for violating section 20.14.2 (rear suspension) of the NASCAR Rule Book.

Joe Gibbs Racing later announced it wouldn’t appeal the penalty.

Hamlin will fall to ninth in the Monster Energy Series playoff standings. Wheeler was fined $50,000, and the team and driver were assessed deductions of 25 points apiece.

Hamlin will remain fifth in the Cup Series standings, 24 points ahead of Brad Keselowski. The top 10 finishers in the regular season will earn playoff points bonuses.

Hamlin’s Xfinity team also was assessed an L1-level penalty for violating section 20.14.2 (rear suspension) in its Saturday victory. JGR Xfinity team crew chief Eric Phillips has been fined $25,000 and will be suspended for the next two races. The team also was penalized 25 owner points.

NASCAR also announced the No. 22 Team Penske Xfinity car of Joey Logano was assessed an L1-level penalty for violating sections 20.14.2 (rear suspension) after its runner-up finish to Hamlin Saturday.

Crew chief Greg Erwin was fined $25,000 and suspended from two races, the team was assessed with the loss of 25 owner points. Logano’s finish also was ruled encumbered.

NASCAR America: Matt Kenseth tests unproven parts, finishes 18th at Kentucky

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Mid-pack racing is not something generally associated with veterans Kyle Larson and Matt Kenseth, but circumstances at Kentucky Speedway last week forced them into heavy traffic.

Kenseth is becoming the consummate team player – and as it turns out, the No. 6 car is being used as a test car with him behind the wheel, according to NASCAR America’s Parker Kligerman.

“This 6 car has become – it was said to me – a test car to try things to help the other car and most importantly help the 17 car of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. They are putting parts and things on this car they do not feel are race proven and therefore, if they see good things out of them, they can immediately put them … on the 17 car to hopefully help the 17 car of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. make the playoffs.”

Kenseth finished 19th in the Quaker State 400, which was the first time in seven starts at Kentucky that he finished outside of the top 10.

Larson’s troubles were self-made.

“He missed driver introductions; has to start at the back of the pack,” ” Kyle Petty said. “He drives this thing from the back of the pack up through the field. Is passing them inside, outside – outside on a track where one groove is not very wide.”

And while he salvaged a top 10 finish in ninth, Larson’s average running position was outside that mark with an 11.45.

David Ragan’s 18th-place finish was also notable to Kligerman.

“This was an impressive run for David Ragan and Front Row Motorsports because it’s kind of what they’re trying to do from the start of the season,” Kligerman said. “Bob Jenkins, the owner, made a large investment in the off season, they got a closer aligned with Roush Fenway … and this is the kind of run they want: top 20s.”

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter.

Truck practice report at Eldora

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FINAL PRACTICE

Stewart Friesen was the fastest in Tuesday’s final practice session at Eldora Speedway with a lap of 86.153 mph. He was followed by Sheldon Creed (85.874 mph), Chase Briscoe (85.784), Myatt Snider (85.789) and Todd Gilliland (85.727).

Cup driver Ryan Newman was 18th on the speed chart at 83.597 mph. Cup driver Ty Dillon was 25th on the speed chart at 82.839 mph.

Snider ran the most laps at 86. Next was Gilliland at 69.

Matt Crafton had the best average over 10 consecutive laps at 83.233 mph. He was followed by Logan Seavey (82.530 mph) and Tanner Thorson (82.251).

Click here for final practice report

FIRST PRACTICE

Myatt Snider posted the fastest time in the first practice session for the Eldora Dirt Derby at Eldora Speedway with a speed of 91.552 mph.

He beat second-place Stewart Friesen (91.403 mph) by .032 seconds. Friesen currently competes in both the Camping World Truck Series and DIRTcar’s Big Block modified division.

Grant Enfinger (91.264), Brett Moffitt (91.204) and last year’s winner Matt Crafton (91.176) round out the top five.

NASCAR Cup regular Ty Dillon was 16th on the speed chart at 90.457 mph. Ryan Newman (88.652) was 28th on the chart.

Click here for the compete practice report.

NASCAR America Scan All: Two sides to every story

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In NASCAR, there are almost always two sides to every incident. This week’s Scan All features contact between Jamie McMurray and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Clint Bowyer, as well as Michael McDowell and Austin Dillon.

“You got a granola bar or something down there you can give me?” Clint Bowyer asked crew chief Mike Bugarewicz during the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway. Unfortunately, all they could find was a mini peanut butter and jelly sandwich. When Bowyer’s spotter chimed in to note that there were granola bars in the goodie bags, it left Bugarewicz wondering why he didn’t get one.

The absence of a snack bar may have been just the thing that kept Bowyer from winning because he lost his composure after losing “three [expletive] spots every time we come down pit road” a little later in the race.

Other highlights included:

  • “The 1 door slammed me.” – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  • “Check the right side, the 17 turned into me on the backstretch.” – Jamie McMurray
  • “I see now. I had the wrong line. Two lines there; sorry about that.” – Brad Keselowski
  • “Yellow line to yellow line.” – Paul Wolfe, Keselowski’s crew chief
  • “I gotta know how far away he is from my door in the corner.” – Ryan Blaney
  • “Let the 43 know that I’m racing here; get the hell out of the way.” – Michael McDowell

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter.

Goodyear to reassess Charlotte Roval tire after two open tests, chunking issue

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CONCORD, N.C. — Goodyear is reassessing what tire it will bring for the Sept. 29-30 race weekend on the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course following chunking issues with its primary tire during two days of open tests.

Select Cup teams utilized an alternate Goodyear tire, which was used during the final portion of Tuesday’s open test on the road course, Goodyear said in a statement.

The tire had a “slightly tougher compound” than the original tires used for the open tests and had been the control tire during a tire test held in the spring.

The decision to make the tire available was made following the July 10 test on the road course.

NBC Sports confirmed Joey Logano and Clint Bowyer‘s teams used the tire and Aric Almirola‘s did not.

“Drove about the same to me,” Logano told NBC Sports of the alternate tire. “Mainly, the control tire, whatever you want to call it, the normal tire, has some chunking problems, chunks coming out of both front and rears. Some lasted 15 laps, some lasted three laps. Just kind of random how that was. … I don’t know what’s different. I don’t know the technical part of what’s different, I just know it drove pretty similar and we didn’t have any issues with that tire. Good change.”

Goodyear released the following statement from Mark Keto, its project manager for NASCAR.

“Because we saw some of the things we saw during one of NASCAR’s open tests at the Charlotte road course last week, we decided to bring an alternate tire for teams to try at the end of day two, which was the control tire from our spring test here and has a slightly tougher compound than what we brought to our open tests. Bringing the alternate tire gives us an additional data point from which to work. We’ve had some extreme heat and track temperatures that we’ve tested under over these past two sessions, and that could be contributing to this situation, along with the way the cars going over the curbs and rumble strips as they search for the fastest way around this course. As we do after every test or on-track session, we will study all the data we’ve collected and come up with our best race recommendation.”

During his scheduled media availability Tuesday, Logano cited tires when he expressed approval for the removal of rumble strips from Turn 8, which exits on the oval’s Turn 1.

“I think those rumble strips probably weren’t doing any favors to the tire, anyway,” Logano said. “Getting those out is probably good. It probably gives Goodyear a margin to work with, which is a good thing. We’re going to run the same line anyway.”