Laser Inspection Station

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Rick Hendrick on inspection issues: ‘We’re going to clean our stuff up’

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CONCORD, N.C. — Team owner Rick Hendrick has questions about NASCAR’s inspection process after many of his cars failed to pass before qualifying recently, but the message he plans to deliver to his teams is clear.

“We’re going to clean our stuff up,’’ he said. “If 30 other cars or 28 make it through, we should make it through.’’

Three Hendrick Motorsports cars — those of Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. — were among 11 cars that failed to pass inspection in time to make a qualifying attempt last weekend at Kansas.

Three Hendrick cars — those of Chase Elliott, Kahne and Earnhardt — were among nine cars that failed to pass inspection in time to make a qualifying attempt last month at Texas.

No other organization had as many cars fail to make a qualifying attempt at those two tracks.

“If we’re that close to the line, then we need to back off,’’ Hendrick said Tuesday at the opening of the Axalta Customer Experience Center on the Hendrick Motorsports campus. “We don’t want to have to go through that.’’

MORE: Hendrick Motorsports looks to extend sponsor deals

Hendrick, though, does have some questions about the inspection process and the Laser Inspection Station.

“It’s amazing, like the 88 made it through the laser and passed,’’ Hendrick said of Earnhardt’s team at Kansas. “(NASCAR) didn’t like a clamp somewhere and they go back around, fix the clamp and don’t pass. So I don’t know how you pass one time and don’t pass the second time.’’

He wasn’t the only one confused. Earnhardt also expressed puzzlement on Twitter.

Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, said Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that it is “conceivable” that a car could pass the Laser Inspection Station and then be off the next time by.

“It’s hard to explain, it would take an hour to kind of go through all the technical things about the process, but it is conceivable if they’re .01 of a degree to the good that the next time they’ll be .01 of a degree outside of the good.

“Every piece of measurement equipment has a tolerance that it can work in and they seem to think that this thing should be absolute when no measuring equipment is absolute. It’s just one of those things. They’re trying to get to the edge. We’re trying to make sure we have a level playing field.’’

The penalty for not making a qualifying attempt is to start at the rear of the field. Some wonder if that is enough of a deterrent in light of so many cars not getting through. Not Hendrick.

“When you don’t get to qualify and you start in the back, that’s pretty severe I think,’’ he said.

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Aric Almirola crew chief suspended three points races for failed laser inspection

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NASCAR on Wednesday announced the three-race suspension of Richard Petty Motorsports crew chief Drew Blickensderfer after the No. 43 “failed the post-race rear wheel steer” portion of the laser inspection Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway.

Scott McDougall, the team’s director of engineering, will serve as interim crew chief this weekend at Kansas Speedway, in the Coke 600 and at Dover International Speedway.

Blickensderfer will be able to serve as crew chief during the All-Star weekend.

Blickensderfer has also been fined $65,000 and the team has been docked 35 driver and owner points. Before the penalty, Almirola had been 17th in the standings, one point out of 16th, which is the final playoff spot. Almirola is now tied with Daniel Suarez for 21st with 187 points.

Almirola’s fourth-place result in Talladega, his second top five of the year, is encumbered.

Richard Petty Motorsports released the following statement:

“We accept NASCAR’s decision and will continue to work to get the most out of our race cars every week while maintaining the NASCAR rulebook. We look forward to Kansas this weekend.”

On Tuesday, Alrmirola told NBC Sports’ Marty Snider his car failed inspection by being 0.01 of an inch beyond the tolerance.

“It’s less than the thickness of a credit card, but it’s the rules,” Almirola said. “We’ve seen other teams penalized for the same thing, so we’re not being singled out. NASCAR is making clear they have rules, and we have to play within the rules.”

NASCAR also announced Tommy Baldwin Racing crew chief Ken Davis was fined $10,000 for having only 19 lug nuts secured on the No. 7 Chevrolet of Elliott Sadler.

NASCAR also indefinitely suspended Front Row Motorsports engineer Reid T. Ferguson for violating its substance abuse policy.

 

Aric Almirola says car failed Laser Inspection Station by less than thickness of a credit card

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A miniscule measurement likely will mean a hefty penalty for the Richard Petty Motorsports team of Aric Almirola.

After finishing fourth Sunday at Talladega Superpeedway, Almirola’s No. 43 Ford failed the Laser Inspection Station.

Almirola told NBCSN’s Marty Snider that the infraction was 0.01 of an inch beyond the tolerance.

“It’s less than the thickness of a credit card, but it’s the rules,” Almirola said. “We’ve seen other teams penalized for the same thing, so we’re not being singled out. NASCAR is making clear they have rules, and we have to play within the rules.

“As a driver and race team, we have to push the boundaries and have to push it right to the ragged edge because all our competition is. If we just built a car well within the measurements and tolerances, we’d run 30th every week. That’s the reality of it. All the teams push every thousandth of an inch that they can get. You have to to keep up.”

The standard penalty for an LIS failure has been a $65,000 fine, 35-point deduction and three-race suspension for a crew chief. Team Penske lost its final appeal of an LIS penalty Tuesday.

Almirola, who earned his second top five of the season Sunday, said his team hadn’t received confirmation of a penalty yet from NASCAR and didn’t know if it would appeal if so.

“I don’t have a lot of details on where we’ll go from here,” he said. “We have an idea (of a potential penalty) based on other teams, but we’ll wait and take it as it comes.”

Watch the full interview with Almirola on NASCAR America on NBCSN from 5:30-6:30 p.m. today.

Aric Almirola gets second top five of year, fails laser inspection

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Aric Almirola arguably had the best race weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.

The Richard Petty Motorsports driver won Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at the 2.66-mile track and followed it up with a fourth-place finish Sunday in the Geico 500.

It’s his second top-five of the year after also finishing fourth in the Daytona 500.

What did Almirola need to get his second Cup win?

“I don’t know, maybe a better push or 100, 200 more yards,” Almirola told Fox. “All the Fords were fast, Doug Yates obviously builds great horsepower. … I felt really confident going into those last few restarts. I thought we were going to get our Ford Fusion into Victory Lane.”

But Almirola’s great weekend took a bad turn during post-race inspection. His No. 43 Ford failed the laser inspection.

Almirola, who is 17th in the standings and one point out of 16th (the final playoff spot), could be facing a 35-point penalty.

Saturday Richmond practice holds for Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Jamie McMurray and Ryan Blaney

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RICHMOND, Va. — Three more Cup drivers were held out of practice for 15 minutes Saturday morning at Richmond International Raceway.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.‘s No. 17 Ford was held after passing the Laser Inspection System, returning to the garage for adjustments and then failing it the second time through the platform.

Jamie McMurray‘s No. 1 Chevrolet was held after failing the LIS twice, and Ryan Blaney was held after his No. 21 Ford failed the template inspection twice.

The first practice for Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400 ran from 9-9:55 a.m. The final session is from 11:30 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.

Several cars missed time in Friday’s practice as NASCAR continues its inspection crackdown this season.