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Ross Chastain stands by team ‘100 percent’ as they appeal Iowa penalty

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Despite losing his win, a $50,000 bonus and almost all of the points he accumulated Sunday at Iowa Speedway, Ross Chastain is still “proud” of the dominating performance by Niece Motorsports in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series race.

But that performance was taken out of the record books after the front his No. 44 Chevrolet was found to be “extremely low,” violating the ride-height rules. Chastain’s wins now belongs to Brett Moffitt.

“We stomped everybody’s tails out in Iowa and I’m proud of that and our Niece Motorsports team is proud of that,” Chastain said Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “SiriusXM Speedway. “A little technical hiccup there after the race isn’t going to take away the fact that we start started 19th, won both stages. We were able to drive past trucks. We never got passed once all day.” 

Chastain is credited with a last-place finish and only five points earned instead of 60, a major hit for his hopes of making the Truck Series playoffs after switching his points declaration from Xfinity after eight races in the season.

In the next six races Chastain must win once and be inside the top 20 in the standings to qualifying for the playoffs. Chastain has 43 points. He’s 69 points behind Josh Reaume, who is 20th in the season standings.

“It was a pretty incredible day and something I will never forget and I will not let anything take it away from us,” Chastain said. “No old rule that still is in effect that isn’t applicable anymore, but the rules are the rules, we understand that. But we still kicked their butts and I’m proud of it.”

Chastain affirmed that “I stand by my guys” after the penalty, which the team is appealing.

“I stand by everything we do,” Chastain said. “We have something pretty incredible, something I’ve never been a part of in the Truck Series, where you have a group of guys that pushes as hard as this group does and makes as much speed.

“At the end of the day everybody can talk about their guys working their tails off and all that but we have speed. That’s so hard to find. A lot of times you don’t know why you have it, but I know we have it and we’re only getting better and we’re only going to be stronger as we move forward. We’ve got more trucks coming. We’re building better pieces and putting them together better. So no, I don’t know what the deal is with the truck, but I’m behind them 100%.”

Chastain admitted he looked at reaction on social media, which included accusations that the violation was committed on purpose.

“I’ve got to say, man, in my opinion, I really don’t agree with it, thinking that we did something during the race, cars can be modified tremendously and illegally, I don’t agree with that and I hate that that stuff gets talked about because it’s just not the case,” Chastain said. “Anybody in the sport … knows that tech ride height is not indicative of how low the race car is on the sport. I wish that was explained a little better. I hate that the sport is in a point that people don’t understand the difference between tech height and dynamic height on the race track.”

 

Three Cup cars fail prerace inspection at Martinsville Speedway

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MARTINSVILLE, Va. — The cars of William Byron, DJ Kennington and Jeb Burton failed inspection Sunday morning at Martinsville Speedway.

Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet failed mechanical measurements. His sixth-place qualifying time will be disallowed, and he will have to start from the rear.

Kennington failed the OSS. He qualified 34th.

Burton had qualified 33rd.

The three cars will officially start behind those that passed inspection. Cars that qualified behind them will move up one spot.

The No. 24 suffered a right-front tire problem in the opening minutes of first practice Saturday morning, and the team made repairs to put the car back on track.

Matt Tifft, BJ McLeod lose car chiefs, practice time for qualifying inspection failures

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The cars of Matt Tifft and BJ McLeod failed pre-qualifying inspection twice Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Tifft, who drives Front Row Motorsports’ No. 36 Ford, and McLeod, who drives Rick Ware Racing’s No. 52 Chevrolet, had their car chiefs ejected from the event for the rest of the weekend.

Both drivers also lose 15 minutes of practice time from Saturday’s final practice.

 

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.