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NASCAR fines Cup crew chief for unsecured lug nut at Bristol

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NASCAR announced Tuesday that the only penalty from Bristol was a $10,000 fine to Brian Pattie, crew chief for Ricky Stenhouse Jr., for having an unsecured lug nut on the No. 17 car after Monday’s Cup race.

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NASCAR penalizes Chase Elliott’s team for Phoenix violation

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NASCAR penalized Chase Elliott‘s Hendrick Motorsports team for an L1 violation found after Sunday’s race at Phoenix.

NASCAR fined crew chief Alan Gustafson $50,000, suspended car chief Josh Kirk two races and docked Elliott 25 points and the team 25 owner points. Elliott’s third-place finish will not count toward any tiebreakers. By losing 25 points, Elliott drops from 16th to 23rd in the points.

NASCAR stated that the team’s truck trailing arm spacer/pinion angle shim mounting surfaces must be planar and in complete contact with corresponding mating surfaces at all points and at all times.

The team is appealing the penalty, and NASCAR confirmed Thursday that Kirk’s suspension will be deferred until the case is heard, allowing him to be in the garage at Auto Club Speedway this weekend. The appeal hearing date hasn’t been set yet.

NASCAR also announced that the cars of Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. were all cited for having one lug nut unsecured at the end of the Phoenix race. That resulted in a $10,000 fine each to crew chiefs Todd Gordon (Logano), Cole Pearn (Truex), Mike Wheeler (Hamlin), Jeremy Bullins (Blaney) and Brian Pattie (Stenhouse).

In the Xfinity Series, the teams of Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch were each found to have one lug nut unsecured. That resulted in a $5,000 fine for crew chief Brian Wilson (Keselowski) and Eric Phillips (Busch).

NASCAR also announced that Brandon Lee and Wayne Kanter had been indefinitely suspended for violating NASCAR’s substance abuse policy.

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NASCAR America: How gambling put Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in Round of 12

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With a casino that runs along the backstretch at Dover International Speedway, it’s not surprising that Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and crew chief Brian Pattie did some big-time gambling when it came to strategy several times in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup playoff race.

While it was just barely, the gambling still paid off nonetheless: Stenhouse qualified to move on to the next round of the playoffs, finishing two points ahead of Ryan Newman, who was eliminated from moving on to the second round.

On Monday’s NASCAR America, our analysts — Parker Kligerman, Brian Vickers and Steve Letarte — gave their assessment of the strategy calls that put Stenhouse into the next round.

“It was a two-point battle. Brian Pattie, having the courage to make both those pit decisions is exactly what Brian and Ricky need to continue to do throughout the entire playoff sequence,” Letarte said. “They need to continue to be on whatever strategy that Brian sees fit to give him opportunity. He did it at Dover and it paid off.”

Added Kligerman, “It was just amazing, courageous calls by Brian Pattie and that 17 team. I just think this is one of the gutsiest, coolest drives I’ve seen in modern day NASCAR, knowing what they were up against and knowing Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was told this was one of the most important races in Roush Fenway Racing history, to get into the second round of the playoffs, and to get out and make it happen.”

Despite struggles, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. advances in playoffs

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DOVER, Delaware — After multiple brushes with the wall and penalties in the opening round of the playoffs, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. found a way to advance.

Barely.

His emotion after Sunday’s race at Dover International Speedway was relief mixed with the feeling that he and his team had not performed well in the first three races of the playoffs.

Still, Stenhouse’s 19th-place finish Sunday was good enough to beat Ryan Newman by two points for the final transfer spot to the Round of 12.

“It was a battle,’’ said Stenhouse, who advanced despite an average finish of 19.7 in the opening round. “The first three races were definitely not near as good as what we wanted. We didn’t have fast enough cars, we made too many mistakes.’’

He and his team fought through their woes the past three weeks and were rewarded with some luck at Dover.

A key point came when the caution waved on Lap 88 after Jeffrey Earnhardt spun into the barrels at pit entrance, spilling sand.

Stenhouse was to have pitted that lap but by staying out he was one of five drivers on the lead lap who had yet to pit. That put him in position to score points when the first stage ended on Lap 120. Stenhouse finished fourth in that stage, scoring seven points.

“Great strategy and it paid off,’’ said Stenhouse, who had not scored stage points in the previous six races. “We were able to get (seven) stage points and really that was the turning point of our day and gave us a lot of buffer.’’

Without those seven points, he wouldn’t have advanced in the playoffs.

Crew chief Brian Pattie said that with Stenhouse’s car not fast, it made sense to stay out as long as possible while “just hoping you weren’t the caution.

“I didn’t want to pit while I was on the lead lap. I didn’t want to pit while I was (in position for the free pass). It was just an educated guess.’’

Now, Stenhouse heads into a round that includes Talladega. He’s won the past two restrictor-plate races and suddenly becomes one to watch to advance to the Round of 8.

“Definitely, Talladega is our best track to grab a win,’’ Stenhouse said of the Oct. 15 race. “We knew coming into Dover that we probably didn’t have a car capable of winning. But Talladega, we feel confident going in that we’ve got that car. We’ve been working hard on all of our other programs, we just can’t get them up to speed. It’s been a struggle. We’ll see how it all plays out.’’

Stenhouse begins the next round in the final transfer spot. He holds a two-point lead on Ryan Blaney, a four-point lead on Chase Elliott, a five-point edge on Matt Kenseth and a seven-point lead on Jamie McMurray heading to Charlotte Motor Speedway.

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Three Cup crew chiefs fined for unsecured lug nuts at Pocono

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NASCAR has fined five crew chiefs, including three in the Cup Series, for having unsecured lug nuts last weekend.

Adam Stevens, crew chief for Kyle Busch, Brian Pattie, crew chief for Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Matt Puccia, crew chief for Trevor Bayne, all were fined $10,000 for having one unsecured lug nut each after the Overton’s 400.

This is the third time the No. 18 team has been fined for an unsecured lug nut (Sonoma, Kentucky and Pocono II).

In the Xfinity Series, Phil Gould, crew chief of Ryan Reed‘s No. 16 car, was fined $5,000 for an unsecured lug nut at Iowa Speedway.

In the Camping World Truck Series, Trip Bruce, crew chief of the No. 52 driven by Stewart Friesen, was fined $2,500 for an unsecured lug nut at Pocono.

MORE: Erik Jones loses crew chief for two races and loses 25 driver, owner points for inspection failure