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Chad Knaus lauds new postrace inspections; previous wait ‘awful’

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Though the price of success will be much longer hours, Chad Knaus applauds NASCAR’s move to at-track postrace inspections and disqualifications because it will save him the stress.

“I think we all understand that’s something that needs to be done so we can get the results done, finished and just move on,” Knaus said during an interview on SiriusXM NASCAR’s The Morning Drive program. “When you win a race previously in the Cup Series and you had to wait until Tuesday to take your car apart, that was the worst thing in the world.

“You hated winning a race because all you did from the time that you left victory lane was worry about whether or not your car was going to pass inspection for three days. That’s awful.”

Knaus will be the crew chief this year on William Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet after 17 seasons and seven championships with Jimmie Johnson. Describing the new process as “clean,” Knaus said it reminded him of when NASCAR did inspections nearly exclusively at the track prior to its R&D Center (which opened in 2003).

“It’s not so unlike what we did years ago, we used to take our cars apart at the racetrack all the time and go through a postrace inspection and then pull randoms at that point and take them back and get a look at them,” Knaus said. “It’s something I’m not too unfamiliar with, the only new caveat is the fact that they’re going to disallow race wins. Unique from that perspective but familiar in another.”

What is different from that era is green-flag times.

Every Cup race in 2019 will be starting at 2 p.m. ET or later, which could make for “a heck of a long night on Sunday,” Knaus said. “When we were doing this in the past, races were starting around midday. Push that start time back two to three hours, and now you’re two to three hours into the night, it could be 10 or 11 o’clock (p.m.) before we get this done.”

The new inspection process will be governed by Jay Fabian, who takes over this season as the managing director for the Cup Series. NASCAR chief racing development officer and senior vice president Steve O’Donnell said Fabian was chosen because of his work on inspections the past few seasons and his background in Cup.

Fabian worked for several years at Michael Waltrip Racing alongside NASCAR vice president of competition Scott Miller

“I think Jay is going to be a good asset to the group with the managing director position,” Knaus said. “He’s got a good relationship with a lot of guys in the industry, so I think he’s going to be a good addition. Definitely has the ear of Scott Miller, which is good. Those guys will be on the same page and pretty consistent with their officiating throughout the season. I think that’s all good stuff.”

Martin Truex Jr., Daniel Suarez drop to rear after inspection failures

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Two drivers will drop to the rear of Sunday’s Brickyard 400 after multiple trips through NASCAR’s inspection lines.

After his No. 19 Toyota failed inspection four times, Daniel Suarez also will lose 10 points, and car chief Todd Brewer was ejected. Suarez had been scheduled to start 20th after the field was set by points.

Martin Truex Jr.‘s No. 78 Toyota failed inspection three times, which resulted in the ejection of car chief Blake Harris. Truex, whose Furniture Row Racing team announced Tuesday that this is its final season, was scheduled to start third.

The Brickyard 400 will start Sunday at 1 p.m. on NBCSN, an hour earlier than originally scheduled after rain washed out practice and qualifying Saturday.

 

Three Joe Gibbs Racing cars starting from rear due to inspection failure

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Three Joe Gibbs Racing cars will start from the rear in today’s Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway because of inspection problems.

The Toyotas of Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Erik Jones will start from the rear because their splitters were replaced after being found to be noncompliant. There could be further penalties this week.

Busch had qualified third, Jones qualified eighth and Hamlin qualified 10th.

 

NASCAR executive: Teams not getting through inspection ‘frustrating’

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Steve O’Donnell, executive vice president and chief racing development officer for NASCAR, called the pattern of teams not getting cars through inspection “frustrating” for the sanctioning body.

Appearing on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive” Monday morning, O’Donnell addressed the issue after a weekend where six teams were unable to make qualifying attempts for the Cup race at Kansas Speedway due to not passing inspection in time.

Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, Matt DiBenedetto, Kasey Kahne, Timmy Hill and Michael McDowell did not make qualifying attempts and started from the rear of the field.

The teams of Jimmie Johnson and Jamie McMurray had to scramble to get their cars on the track with less than two minutes left in Round 1.

“It’s really a frustrating topic for us,” O’Donnell said. “You’ve heard me come on and say we’ve got the most talented engineers in the world working on the race cars and we believe that. And it’s certainly frustrating because it is on the teams to present their cars for inspection.”

O’Donnell compared the inspection issue to a hypothetical scenario in baseball.

“It’s become really the equivalent of a Kris Bryant (Chicago Cubs third baseman) coming to the plate with a bat you can’t use,” O’Donnell said. “The umpire says ‘you can’t use that,’ comes back with a bat you can’t use, the umpire says it again and then the third time says ‘you can’t make your plate appearance.’ Then the batter runs to the media and says, ‘I can’t believe they did this.’ At some point it’s frustrating on our end and at some point we’ve got to get the teams to be able to show up and get through tech inspection. It’s the same every week and it’s one of those things that most teams are able to do it.”

O’Donnell said NASCAR needs to “streamline” the process “somehow” and work with teams to ensure “we’re getting everybody out there, that’s what the fans pay to see and that’s what we collectively should want to do as an industry.”

Two weeks ago at Dover, pole-sitter Kyle Larson was one of three drivers who had to start from the rear for issues in pre-race inspection. The car chiefs for Larson and Alex Bowman were ejected from the event for their cars failing inspection three times.

O’Donnell was asked if NASCAR could increase penalties to further deter teams from going over the line.

“We feel like we’ve done that. It hasn’t seemed to work,” O’Donnell said. “I think we’ll go back and just look at it collectively and continue to focus on the teams that are doing it right and really make that be the narrative and continue to do so. Where we can make an adjustment we certainly will. Last thing we want to do you know is penalize any team. We don’t want that to be the narrative. We want the narrative to be around the race product.”

Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer and four others don’t make qualifying runs at Kansas

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Six Cup teams failed to get their cars through qualifying inspection Friday at Kansas Speedway.

As a result, Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, Matt DiBenedetto, Kasey KahneTimmy Hill and Michael McDowell did not make qualifying attempts. They will start from the rear of Saturday’s race.

It’s a rough start to Kenseth’s return to Cup racing with Roush Fenway Racing. He makes his first start of the year tomorrow night.

Bowyer’s problems come after a penalty from last week at Dover resulted in a two-race suspension for his car chief.

“We’re stuck back there in jail,” Bowyer told Fox Sports 1. “Pretty bad taste in my mouth right now. It’s hard not to go off because it’s frustrating. You’re sitting there watching the guys. The body was off, they made some adjustments and went back through and then the chassis is off.”