Clint Bowyer, Daniel Suarez lose 20 points, car chiefs for two races for Dover penalties

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NASCAR docked Clint Bowyer and Daniel Suarez 20 points each and both will lose their car chief for two points races for L1 violations discovered after last weekend’s race at Dover International Speedway.

Bowyer finished second Sunday. Suarez was third, his best Cup finish on an oval.

Bowyer’s crew chief, Mike Bugarewicz, was fined $50,000 and car chief Jerry Cook was suspended two points races. The team also was penalized 20 owner points. The No. 14 Ford violated Section 20.4.8.1, which mandates “rear window support braces must keep the rear window glass rigid in all directions at all times.” Bowyer’s finish will not count in any tie-breaking procedures.

The point penalty Bowyer received is consistent with those issued for similar violations to the teams of Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott earlier this season. Harvick is Bowyer’s teammate at Stewart-Haas Racing.

Bowyer exited Dover fourth in the standings with 380 points. He loses one spot to Brad Keselowski.

Regarding an appeal, an SHR spokesperson said the team is “evaluating its options and continuing its dialog with NASCAR.”

SHR released the following statement from Greg Zipadelli, vice president of competition:

“We had a minor part failure due to the heavy loads and track conditions experienced at Dover. It had no competitive impact, and our race car fit all the templates and passed all the inspections throughout the race weekend, including pre- and post-race.”

Suarez’s crew chief, Scott Graves, was fined $50,000 and car chief Todd Brewer was suspended for the next two points events for a violation in the rear window support and structure. The team also was penalized 20 owner points. The rear window on the No. 19 Toyota was “not flush to deck lid.”

Suarez was 17th with 234 points. He drops three spots to 20th behind Ryan Newman.

Joe Gibbs Racing will not appeal its penalties. Wesley Sherrill will serve as car chief at Kansas. The car chief for Charlotte is to be determined.

Austin Dillon‘s crew chief, Justin Alexander, was fined $25,000 and car chief Greg Ebert, was suspended one points race for the splitter on the No. 3 Chevrolet not meeting specifications.

Dillon finished 26th at Dover.

Also, Kurt Busch‘s crew chief, Billy Scott, was fined $10,000 for an unsecured lug nut.

Stewart-Haas Racing adds sponsor for Clint Bowyer for 2019

Photo: Stewart-Haas Racing
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Stewart-Haas Racing announced Monday that it has signed a sponsorship deal that will see PEAK Coolant & Antifreeze and BlueDEF Diesel Exhaust Fluid be on Clint Bowyer‘s Cup car and the cars of the Haas F1 Team.

PEAK Coolant & Antifreeze and BlueDEF Diesel Exhaust Fluid will be the primary sponsor on Clint Bowyer’s car for three Cup races next year. The companies will be an associate sponsor on the other races.

In F1, the companies will expand their partnership in 2019 with their logos moving from the nose of the cars Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen drive to the rear-wing endplates, a more visible location.

“We get the best of both worlds with Haas F1 Team and Stewart-Haas Racing,” said Bryan Emrich, Chief Marketing Officer, Old World Industries, in a statement. “The PEAK Coolant & Antifreeze and BlueDEF brands get global exposure and continued recognition domestically. The technology of Formula One and NASCAR help sell our products, as do the personalities we’ve aligned ourselves with. Clint Bowyer, Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen are genuine people who engage well with our customers. Racing is a relationship business, and we’re extremely proud of the relationships we’ve fostered with Haas F1 Team and Stewart-Haas Racing.”

 

NASCAR explains why no caution at end of Talladega Cup race

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Kurt Busch criticized NASCAR for not throwing a caution on the last lap of overtime Sunday when there was a multi-car crash, but NASCAR’s Steve O’Donnell said the sanctioning body made the right call in letting the race end the way it did.

Had NASCAR called a caution for the incident that included Matt DiBenedetto, Chase Elliott and Kyle Busch, it would have sent the race to another overtime at Talladega Superspeedway. A caution would have ended the race since the field had taken the white flag.

Also, the decision to let the race finish under green was in contrast to Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race that ended under caution after contact by the top two cars led to Noah Gragson crashing and collecting others.

O’Donnell was asked Monday on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio to explain those two calls.

“Two different races and every race is different,”  O’Donnell said. “Every call is a judgment call. The (incident) on Saturday was in front of the field, you saw a couple of wheels get off the ground, and any time you’re going to have more and more of the field driving into that caution, we felt the need in that case to throw the caution. We always want to try to end under green, but in that case we just felt like we couldn’t.

“Then on Sunday, very similar in terms of a car hitting the wall but where it happened was different and in terms of where the field was. The 32 car (DiBenedetto) then kept rolling, which is certainly a sign for us that we’re OK to keep going. The 9 car (Elliott) where it stopped (on the grass inside the turn) was right in front of our safety vehicles and had communication from the tower that that car was in good shape so we elected to not throw the caution and finish under green.

“You could say in this case that could have gone either way and could have. I talked to Matt (DiBenedetto) after the race and he was supportive of the call and understood. Our first job is to always make sure everybody is safe, and we felt we did that in this case. Certainly go back and review it as we do but stand by the call and thought it was the right one.”

Drivers in danger of being eliminated from Cup playoffs at Kansas

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The Cup playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway is over and unless you were a driver for Stewart-Haas Racing, not much good happened to the 12 driver playoff field.

Aric Almirola won and joined Chase Elliott in the third round.

That leaves 10 drivers scrambling for the remaining six spots.

Outside the top eight, Kyle Larson (26 points behind cutoff) and specifically Alex Bowman (68) are in must-win scenarios as the bottom two drivers.

But who else is feeling the heat of maybe missing out on the next round after Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway (2 p.m. ET on NBC)?

Clint Bowyer (21 points above cutoff spot)

Bowyer entered Talladega below the cutoff with Almirola and is in a better position after finishing second in both stages and the race.

He will look to make his spot in Round 3 permanent with a win in Kansas, which would be his first at his home track.

In his last three Kansas starts, Bowyer’s best finish was ninth in the spring 2017 race. He placed 19th and 15th in the next two.

“After the frustrating run at Dover, I had to gain some points,”  Bowyer said. “It didn’t do any good to get good stage points if the guys that I’m racing for this next round do it, as well.  I had to get separated some way, shape or form.

“I mean, that guy sitting in Victory Lane right there (Almirola), as happy as I am for him, that’s a spot that just went away for that next round.

“We have to go home, at Kansas take care of business.  I think we can do that.  We needed an opportunity here.”

Martin Truex Jr. (+18)

After a “miserable” run at Talladega ended in a 23rd-place finish, Truex is likely looking forward to a 1.5-mile track.

Truex owns the final transfer spot on the playoff grid entering Kansas – where he’s won two of the last three races and finished second in the spring.

“I think that’s a good place for us even if we had to win,” Truex said after Talladega. “I am not saying we’re going to go there and win. But anytime we can go to any of those tracks, I feel like we have a shot. It’s racing. A lot can happen as we saw today. We’ll give it everything we got and bring a great car to Kansas. We’ll try to get the checkered flag.”

Brad Keselowski (18 points below the cutoff spot)

The Team Penske driver and defending race winner saw his hopes of winning in Talladega vanish when he had to pit for fuel coming to the green flag in overtime. He finished 27th after he led 21 laps.

Keselowski is now on the outside looking into the top eight despite having won three of five races in September, including the playoff opener.

Keselowski has one top five in his last five Kansas starts (second in spring 2017). He’s placed 13th and 14th in the last two visits.

Ryan Blaney (-22)

After winning at the Charlotte Roval to advance to Round 2, Blaney’s playoff hopes are looking a bit dire.

Like Keselowski, Blaney also had to pit for fuel coming to the overtime restart.

As a result, Blaney has finishes of 11th (Dover) and 29th (Talladega) entering Kansas.

Like Truex, Blaney has some positive recent history at the 1.5-mile track.

He finished fourth and third there last year.

In May, Blaney led 54 laps before he was eliminated in an incident with Kyle Larson with 20 laps to go. He finished 37th.

Below is the playoff grid heading into Kansas.

Mechanical issue drops Martin Truex Jr. to final transfer spot entering Kansas

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — Martin Truex Jr. knows Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway could have been worse because of a mechanical issue that made his car “evil to drive.”

The result is that Truex, one of the members of the Big 3 that has dominated the series this season, holds the final transfer spot entering next weekend’s cutoff race at Kansas Speedway.

MORE: Aric Almirola wins at Talladega 

MORE: Kurt Busch criticizes NASCAR 

With an issue in the rear gear, Truex said he fought the car most of the race.

“Couldn’t even go straight,” he said after finishing 23rd. “There was no chance of me getting up there and racing as much as I wanted to.

“I rode around all day broke, hanging on, miserable. I couldn’t even race, my car was so screwed up. It felt like the rear end housing was falling out of it.”

The struggles had him in a spot late in the race where he would have been outside the cutoff spot heading to Kansas.

Truex’s fortune changed when some playoff drivers, including Brad Keselowski, had to pit for fuel in overtime and gave up several spots.

Instead of being outside the cutoff,  Truex enters Kansas in the final transfer spot and has an 18-point lead on Keselowski and a 22-point lead on Ryan Blaney.

Truex won at Kansas last fall and finished second there in May.

“I think that’s a good place for us even if we had to win,” Truex said. “I am not saying we’re going to go there and win. But anytime we can go to any of those tracks, I feel like we have a shot. It’s racing. A lot can happen as we saw today. We’ll give it everything we got and bring a great car to Kansas. We’ll try to get the checkered flag.”