camping world 400

Penalty report from Chicagoland Speedway

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NASCAR on Tuesday fined Chris Gabehart, crew chief for Denny Hamlin’s No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, $10,000 for an unsecured lug nut at the end of Sunday’s Camping World 400 NASCAR Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway.

Also, Mike Shiplett, crew chief for Cole Custer‘s No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, was fined $5,000 for an unsecured lug nut at the end of Saturday’s Camping World 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Chicagoland Speedway.

There were no other penalties issued.

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Alex Bowman’s victory takes Arizona off list of states without Cup winner

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When Alex Bowman is introduced before November’s Cup race at ISM Raceway outside Phoenix, it should be reinforced with some bragging rights.

“Now introducing, the first Arizona native to win a NASCAR Cup Series race: Alex Bowman!”

Yes, Bowman, a native of Tucson, Arizona, won Sunday’s race at Chicagoland Speedway and became the first native driver of the “Grand Canyon State” to win a Cup Series race.

The 26-year-old did what Phoenix natives Michael McDowell and J.J. Yeley weren’t able to before him.

It comes three years after Bowman nearly did so on his own turf. As a substitute driver for the injured Dale Earnhardt Jr., Bowman claimed the pole for the 2016 playoff race at ISM Raceway. He then led 194 laps before an incident on a late restart relegated him to a sixth-place finish.

Bowman’s achievement on Sunday makes Arizona the 34th state to produce a Cup Series winner since its inaugural race in 1949.

Which states have produced the most winners in the last 70 years?

Here are the top five according to Racing Insights:

State                    Number of Winning Drivers
North Carolina     28
California             25
Georgia                11
New York             11
Virginia                11

Now with 34 states having produced winners at NASCAR’s premier level, that leaves 16 that haven’t been that fortunate.

Here are those states:

Alaska
Delaware
Hawaii
Idaho
Louisiana (the only state in the Southeast to not produce a winner)
Minnesota
North Dakota
New Hampshire
New Mexico
Oklahoma
Rhode Island
South Dakota
Utah
Vermont
West Virginia
Wyoming

Alex Bowman celebrates first Cup win with friends and the rising sun

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The sun officially rose over the area surrounding Charlotte, North Carolina, at 5:41 a.m. ET Monday morning.

It was playing catchup to Alex Bowman.

Bowman and a large group of friends with adult beverages took the Garth Brook’s song “Ain’t Goin’ Down (‘Til the Sun Comes Up)” to heart as they celebrated his first career Cup win less than 12 hours earlier at Chicagoland Speedway.

MORE: Long: Cup victory marks giant step forward for Alex Bowman

Bowman announced on Twitter at 5:29 a.m. ET that he and his friends were getting ready to welcome the sun to the party.

After his win Sunday, Bowman said the weight of the victory would sink in once he returned home.

“I feel like once I’m able to kind of go home and be back with the people that were there for the years of running 35th and the same core group of people that I’ve been friends with my whole life, when I get to go home and share it with them, it’s going to be really special,” Bowman said. “Probably won’t be able to talk about it because I probably won’t remember it.  But no, we’re going to have a lot of fun.”

Bowman also joked he planned a special celebratory act for his crew chief Greg Ives.

“I’m going to throw him in the pool in about three hours,” Bowman declared.

At press time, it was unknown if Ives had met his watery fate. But he did spend the early morning hours tweeting about what the win meant to him.

NASCAR executive: ‘Can’t judge intent’ on uncontrolled tire penalties

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An uncontrolled tire penalty has raised the issue of intent regarding pit road penalties between Denny Hamlin and a senior NASCAR executive.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s chief racing development officer, said uncontrolled tire penalties can’t be judged on intent and are present for safety reasons. Hamlin fired back on social media, criticizing NASCAR for a rule introduced last year that reduced the number of pit crew members on teams and resulted in “40 guys” teams “laid off.”

The issue began Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway when Hamlin was called for an uncontrolled tire penalty early in Stage 2 on Lap 105. The penalty resulted in Hamlin having to restart at the rear of the field.

On Twitter, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver called the penalty a “nickel and dime judgement call” and that “this intent is not why the rules was put in place.” Hamlin added that he wanted to see the sport “go back to using common sense.”

O’Donnell responded to Hamlin’s comments Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive.”

“Well, you can’t judge intent,” O’Donnell said. “If a part breaks or anything in the car, if we had to judge intent really on almost any penalty, we’d be in trouble. That’s why we have a rule book and it’s black and white and we’ve been through those things. It’s in place for safety reasons. We’ve been consistent on those calls all year. I think we’re looking at some things around the new car that we can do down the road. We certainly don’t want to be in the rules business or too many rules. But on that case it’s one where we’ve got to make that call.”

Hamlin responded on Twitter, referencing the 2018 reduction of over-the-wall pit crew members from six to five.

While Hamlin said the uncontrolled tire penalty “ruined” his day, it was the first of two penalties the No. 11 team received Sunday. It was followed on Lap 163 with a penalty for too many crew members over the wall.

After winning Stage 1 of the race, Hamlin went on to end the night in 15th.

Jimmie Johnson, William Byron show gains in big day for Hendrick Motorsports

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Jimmie Johnson only led once Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway, a 10-lap stint interrupted by a 3 hour and 18 minute rain delay.

But even after the green flag returned on Lap 17, Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet remained a constant force near the front of the field in one of Hendrick Motorsports’ strongest showings in recent memory.

While Alex Bowman claimed the first win of his Cup career, Johnson brought his car home with a fourth-place finish., his best result through 17 races.

That came after Johnson finished fourth in Stage 1 and fifth in Stage 2, earning 13 much-needed stage points as he battled with the likes of Kevin Harvick at the front.

“It was just a solid performance for our Ally team,” Johnson said. “I’m really proud of everyone. I just couldn’t clear the No. 4 car (Kevin Harvick) when he was so on-track and the car to beat and I think he was probably the strongest car tonight. The way some of those restarts unfolded, the No. 88 (Alex Bowman) had a great opportunity with the draft and working very well and got the lead. Once he had that control, there’s really no taking it from him.”

Johnson was “extremely happy for Hendrick Motorsports,” whose last four wins dating back to August of last year had come from Chase Elliott.

“I can’t wait to see Alex and congratulate him and this No. 48 team is smiling,” Johnson said. “It was a good night.”

Johnson leaves Chicago with a 20-point advantage over the final cutoff spot for the playoffs. He entered the race one point behind the cutoff.

William Byron also turned in an impressive run in his No. 24 Chevrolet, placing eighth and earning his fifth top 10 of the year, topping his four from last year.

Byron started from the rear due to an engine change, but managed an eighth-place finish in Stage 1.

Early in Stage 2, Byron mixed it up with Johnson and Harvick at the front before charging by Harvick for the lead on Lap 99. He then led nine of the next 10 laps before he plummeted outside the top 10 on a Lap 108 restart.

He was able to make his way back to seventh by the end of the stage.

Byron has four top 10s in the last seven races and he has led 97 laps in that stretch.

“Alex (Bowman) and those guys were really fast,” Byron said. “Congrats to them. They did a great job.

“I just have to close in on those details a little bit more. We, as a team, are really close. It’s a little disappointing now that we have the speed that we do, but it’s good to take the lead at some point in the race. I think that’s six or seven in a row for that, so we just have to continue to do that. It’s good for Alex and hopefully we can piggy-back on that.”