NASCAR examining inspection procedure, penalties

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NASCAR is examining what penalties to issue when teams don’t pass inspection before qualifying, will have a different inspection procedure this weekend at Martinsville and remains committed to inspecting cars at the R&D Center, a series official said Monday.

Scott Miller, senior vice president of competition, made the comments on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Thirteen cars did not make a qualifying attempt Friday at Auto Club Speedway because they failed to pass inspection in time. Among the drivers who started at the rear in Sunday’s race because of that were Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott, Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola, William Byron, Kasey Kahne, Daniel Suarez and Alex Bowman.

They would have had an advantage with starting on sticker tires while those who qualified had run laps on their tires. Auto Club Speedway’s surface wears tires. Fresher tires produce faster speeds.

NASCAR decided to allow teams that qualified to purchase a sticker set to start the race on, so every team would be on equal footing. For the Xfinity race, NASCAR stated that any team that didn’t pass inspection before qualifying would be forced to pass through pit road at the start of the race. Every car passed inspection.

“Moving forward, I’m not sure either thing will be where we land, but we certainly will be working on something to keep from having to react like that at the race track,’’ Miller said.

At Martinsville this weekend, NASCAR will not have inspection before qualifying. Instead, cars will be inspected after Saturday’s qualifying. That inspection also will serve as inspection before the race since cars will be impounded after qualifying.

If any team fails inspection, their qualifying time will be disallowed and they will start at the rear of the field for Sunday’s race at Martinsville. 

“We’re actually kind of looking forward to that as a way forward actually,’’ Miller said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “It would be really good if we could get it down to one major inspection for the weekend moving forward.’’

Miller also addressed the issue of if NASCAR would consider no longer inspecting cars at the R&D Center a few days after the event but complete the inspection process at the track.

Twice this month, NASCAR has announced penalties that were discovered at the R&D Center three days after that particular race.

“We’re looking at a lot of different things that potentially could be something different,’’ Miller said. “We want to make sure that we’re doing a thorough job of inspecting the race cars and right now the R&D Center is our best avenue for doing that.’’

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Denny Hamlin posts fastest lap in Saturday morning Cup practice

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LOUDON, N.H. – Denny Hamlin had the fastest lap in Saturday morning’s Cup practice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, leading the field with a lap of 132.942 mph.

He was followed by Ryan Blaney (132.526 mph), Martin Truex Jr. (132.462), Kyle Busch (132.406) and Kevin Harvick (132.356).

Harvick ran the most laps at 50. Harvick told NASCAR on NBC broadcaster Rick Allen in the garage that he ran so many laps to see how much the speed falls off as the tires wear. Jimmie Johnson was next with 42 laps run.

There were no incidents in the 50-minute session.

Ryan Blaney had the best 10-lap average at 131.767 mph.

Click here for the speed chart.

Start time of Sunday’s Cup race moved up to 1 pm ET

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LOUDON, N.H. – The start time for Sunday’s Cup race has been moved up to 1 p.m. ET because of the threat of rain, NASCAR announced.

NBCSN will broadcast the race. NBCSN’s coverage begins at noon ET.

The wunderground.com forecast for 1 p.m. ET Sunday calls for a 49 percent chance of scattered thunderstorms. There is a threat of rain throughout the day.

Kurt Busch won the pole for Sunday’s race.

Two Cup teams to be penalized practice time Saturday at New Hampshire

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LOUDON, N.H. – Denny Hamlin and Kasey Kahne each will miss 15 minutes of Saturday’s final practice session at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for inspection issues, NASCAR announced.

Hamlin is being penalized for failing pre-qualifying inspection twice last weekend at Kentucky. Kahne is being penalized for failing pre-qualifying inspection twice Friday at New Hampshire.

Final practice is scheduled to go from 12:35 – 1:25 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

NASCAR’s Saturday schedule for New Hampshire Motor Speedway

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Today’s schedule at New Hampshire Motor Speedway includes two Cup practice sessions and the Xfinity Series race at the “Magic Mile.”

Here’s the full schedule with TV and radio info.

(All times are Eastern)

Saturday, July 21

7 a.m. — Xfinity garage opens

8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. — Cup garage open

10:05 – 10:55 a.m. — Cup practice (CNBC)

11:05 a.m. — Xfinity qualifying; multi-vehicle/three rounds (CNBC)

12:35 – 1:25 p.m. — Final Cup practice (NBCSN)

1:30 p.m. — Xfinity driver/crew chief meeting

3:30 p.m. — Xfinity driver introductions

4 p.m. — Lakes Region 200 Xfinity race; 200 laps/211.6 miles (NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)