Scott Miller

NASCAR suspends members of Denny Hamlin’s team for four races

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NASCAR suspended multiple members of Denny Hamlin’s team, including crew chief Chris Gabehart, four races each in response for ballast falling out of Hamlin’s car before Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Suspended are Gabehart, car chief Brandon Griffeth and engineer Scott Simmons.

The team does not plan to appeal the penalties, a spokesperson told NBC Sports.

Sam McAulay, an engineer for the team, will take over the crew chief duties. Eric Phillips will serve as the car chief. Mechanic Scott Eldridge will take one of the team’s six road crew spots.

The four races they will miss are Wednesday night’s event at Charlotte, Sunday’s race at Bristol, the June 7 race at Atlanta and the June 10 race at Martinsville. Hamlin won with Gabehart at Bristol last fall. Hamlin was fourth in last year’s playoff race at Martinsville with Gabehart.

Section 12.5.2.7.4.d states the penalty for ballast coming out of a car. The rule notes that: “Loss or separation of added ballast from the vehicle will result in a four Race suspension of the crew chief, car chief, and head engineer. If NASCAR cannot identify which series or vehicle the lost ballast originated from, all vehicles entered for that Event from and associated with the team organization identified on the lost ballast may receive the suspensions.”

The ballast fell out of Hamlin’s car before the start of the Coca-Cola 600. His team made repairs while the race started. Hamlin was eight laps down before he made it on track. He placed 29th, finishing seven laps behind the leaders. 

“That’s a very, very severe safety thing,” Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, said Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive.”

“Those chunks of ballast are huge. We have actually seen those hit race cars. Fortunately, we haven’t had any injuries from it. It pretty much destroys a race car. If the wrong thing happens, it wouldn’t be good. That’s why those penalties are big.” 

NASCAR shortens final stage for several Cup races

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CONCORD, N.C. — NASCAR has changed the length of stages for 16 Cup races this season, primarily shortening the final stage in those events.

The overall length of those races did not change, except for the Pocono doubleheader events. NASCAR also announced that with the stages changing, the end of Stage 2 will go beyond the halfway point of the race. NASCAR stated that a Cup race would be official at the halfway point should it have to end early, a change from last year.

NASCAR reveled the changes to reporters Tuesday at the NASCAR R&D Center.

Here are the changes:

At speedway races, the Daytona 500 stages will now be 65 laps/65/70. The final stage of last year’s Daytona 500 was 80 laps.

At Talladega, the stages will be 60/60/68 laps. The final stage for last year’s races there were 78 laps.

“With the 550 engine package, the fuel mileage was different and the fuel windows got really tight before this change,” said Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition. “All this does is make it so in the final stage there is more than a couple of lap option for the whole field to pit and it gives a little bit more leeway at the end on fuel should we go into overtime. That’s why the speedway races got changed.”

At intermediate tracks:

Atlanta’s Cup race will feature stages that are 105/105/115 laps. Last year’s final stage at Atlanta was 155 laps.

The Cup races at Texas will have stages of 105/105/124. Last year’s final stage was 164 laps.

Darlington’s Cup race will have stages of 115/115/137. The final stage of last year’s Southern 500 was 167 laps.

“The way those races laid out before, (they) had an extremely long third stage with two green-flag stops necessary,” Miller said. “So what we did was we shortened the final stage. It now only has to have one green-flag stop. The center stage is longer, but we kind of collectively thought, having that last stage not be so long … would keep the field tighter and make for more exciting racing.”

At tracks 1 mile or less in length, the changes are:

Phoenix Raceway, site of the championship race, will now have stages of 75/115/122. The final stage at Phoenix last year was 162 laps.

New Hampshire’s Cup race will have stages of 75/110/116 laps. The final stage of last year’s race there was 151 laps.

Dover’s Cup races will have stages of 75/162/163 laps. The final stage of last year’s race was 160 laps.

Richmond’s Cup races will have stages of 80/155/165 laps. The final stage of last year’s race was 200 laps.

“Phoenix, New Hampshire, Dover and Richmond, the goal there was to create some stages that potentially gave us some more strategy options for the crew chiefs,” Miller said. “Typically, those races laid out to where there was no stop necessary in Stage 1 and Stage 2 and a green-flag stop necessary in Stage 3. These shifts in stage length put us to where … there is a need for a green-flag stop in the second and the third stage. Some more strategy options available there.”

New this year is the Pocono doubleheader on June 27-28. The Saturday race is 130 laps and will feature stages of 25/52/53 laps. The Sunday race is 140 laps and will feature stages of 30/55/55.

Miller said that stage lengths had yet to be set this season for the races at Watkins Glen, Sonoma and the Charlotte Roval.

“At the road courses, there’s only one green flag stop that is necessary and that is in the third stage,” Miller said. “We’re talking about reducing the fuel cell capacity and creating some stage lengths that again create a green-flag stop in Stage 2 and Stage 3. Still some work to do there on particulars on the fuel cell and make sure that everything works with the industry. I think we will probably get there.”

Miller also said that NASCAR explored the notion of four stages for every event — only the Coca-Cola 600 has four stages — but that was dropped.

 

NASCAR fines three car owners $50,000 each for manipulating Miami result

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NASCAR fined car owners Jay Robinson (Premium Motorsports), Rick Ware (Rick Ware Racing) and TJ Puchyr (Spire Motorsports) $50,000 each, along with other penalties to their teams, for manipulating the outcome of the Cup season finale in Miami.

The scheme was set up to help one of Robinson’s teams finish the highest among unchartered teams and collect the largest postseason bonus for that group.

“Following a thorough review of race data and driver/team communication from the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, as well as interviews with several competitors, NASCAR has determined that the Nos. 15, 27, 52 and 77 teams have violated Sections 12.8.g and 12.8.1 of the NASCAR rule book, which addresses manipulating the outcome of a race,” Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, in a statement. “As a result, those teams in violation of the rule book have been penalized as listed in the penalty report.”

Section 12.8.g of the Cup Rule Book states: In extraordinary circumstances, NASCAR may take whatever action it deems necessary to mitigate and/or rectify circumstances created by a Member’s actions including, but not limited to, negating the results of a driver’s performance and/or advancing a driver in the standings or The Playoffs.

Section 12.8.1.c of the Cup Rule Book states:

Member actions that could result in a loss of 25-50 driver and Team Owner Points and/or $50,000-$100,000 fine and/or one Race suspension, indefinite suspension, or termination:

  • Physical confrontation with a NASCAR Official, media members, fans, etc.
  • Member-to-Member confrontation(s) with physical violence and other violent manifestations such as significant threat(s) and/or abuse and/or endangerment.
  • Attempting to manipulate the outcome of the Race or championship.
  • Intentionally wrecking another vehicle, whether or not that vehicle is removed from Competition as a result.

Each team penalized had cars fall out of the race to ensure that Premium Motorsports’ No. 27 car gained positions and finished with the most points for the season among unchartered teams and earn the largest bonus. The difference in bonus money from first to second for unchartered teams is about $175,000.

Premium Motorsports’ No. 27 car finished one point ahead of Gaunt Brothers Racing’s No. 96 car among the unchartered cars in the owners standings. Wednesday’s penalties made Gaunt Brothers Racing’s No. 96 the highest unchartered team in the car owner standings.

Here’s how the Miami race was impacted:

Joe Nemechek, driving the No. 15 car for Premium Motorsports, finished 38th. He completed 227 of the 267 laps. The reason listed for not finishing was steering.

Reed Sorenson, driving the No. 77 car for Spire Motorsports, finished 37th. He completed 236 laps. The reason listed for not finishing was brakes.

Josh Bilicki, driving the No. 52 car for Rick Ware Racing, finished 36th. He completed 240 laps. The reason listed for not finishing was brakes.

Ross Chastain, driving the No. 27 car, finished 35th, the last car running at the end. He completed 242 of 267 laps.

NASCAR also issued the following penalties related to this infraction:

  • Docked the No. 15 car of Premium Motorsports 50 team owner points, fined competition director Scott Eggleston $25,000 and suspended him indefinitely.
  • Penalized the No. 27 car of Premium Motorsports 50 team owner points.
  • Docked the No. 52 car of Rick Ware Racing 50 team owner points, fined competition director Kenneth Evans $25,000 and suspended him indefinitely.
  • Penalized the No. 77 team 50 team owner points and fined competition director Scott Eggleston $25,000 on top of the fine he received for his position with the No. 15 car.

 

 

 

NASCAR penalized Bubba Wallace for admission of spin

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AVONDALE, Ariz. — NASCAR penalized Bubba Wallace for intentionally spinning six days after he did so because of an admission to NBC Sports rather than data that Kyle Larson said clearly showed that Wallace spun on purpose after having a flat tire.

Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president for competition, said Saturday that Wallace was fined $50,000 and docked 50 points after he admitted in an interview with NBC Sports that he intentionally spun last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.

“There can be a lot of accusations, but to be completely positive that’s what happened only happened when he raised his hand and said ‘I did it,’ “ Miller said. “That was full admission of something that has been abuzz in the garage and in the media.”

Miller questioned those who say that data, including throttle and steering traces that are available to all teams, clearly showed Wallace spun intentionally after he had a flat tire.

“I would dispute that the data clearly shows it,” Miller said. “We don’t have a lot of data comparison of a guy trying to drive a car with a flat tire. So we’ve looked at all that. We don’t really feel like it’s as straightforward as some of the others do as far as the data showing definitively that he did it on purpose.

“We’ve all watched the cars drive down the straightaway with a flat tire weaving all over the place. So for us, to make a definitive call that a guy spun out on purpose when he can barely keep his car going straight is a big call. And it’s a judgment call. And it’s a call that we would like to not have to be able to make. So hopefully they can know the possibility of this happening is out there if it’s very blatant and that they don’t do it.”

Asked about his spin, Wallace told NBC Sports on Friday night: “I learned from Brad (Keselowski) and Joey (Logano).”

Asked if he was worried about any repercussions, Wallace told NBC Sports: “Until they do anything, no. I’m not the only one to do it. I’m racing for myself. Not for Larson. Not for Chevrolet at that moment. For myself and going multiple laps down.”

NASCAR fines Bubba Wallace $50,000 for intentionally spinning at Texas

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AVONDALE, Ariz. – NASCAR fined Bubba Wallace $50,000 and docked him 50 points Saturday, a day after he told NBC Sports of his intentional spin last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway: “I’m not the only one to do it.”

NASCAR cited Wallace for violating Section 12.1.a General Procedures, Section 12.8 NASCAR Member Conduct, Section 12.8.1 Member Conduct Guidelines and Section 10.8 In-Race Violations.

MORE: NASCAR penalized Bubba Wallace for admission of spin

MORE: NBC analyst Dale Jarrett says drivers should not admit to spinning on purpose

The NASCAR Rule Book states in Section 10.8 that officials can impose a penalty for “intentionally causing or attempt to cause a caution period.”

Section 12.1.a of the Rule Book states: “NASCAR membership is a privilege. With that privilege comes certain benefits, responsibilities and obligations. Correct and proper conduct, both on and off the race track, is part of a Member’s responsibilities. A Member’s actions can reflect upon the sport as a whole and on other NASCAR Members. Ideally, NASCAR Members are role models for the many fans who follow this sport, regardless of the type of license a Member may hold, or the specific Series in which a Member may participate. Therefore, NASCAR views a Member’s conduct, both on and off the race track, which might constitute a behavioral Rules violation under this Rule Book with great importance.”

Richard Petty Motorsports issued a statement Saturday morning.

“Our team met with NASCAR officials this morning to discuss Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr.’s post-practice comments on Friday, November 8, concerning an on-track incident which occurred at the Texas Motor Speedway,” Philippe Lopez, Richard Petty Motorsports director of competition, said. “We fully understand NASCAR’s position and expectations of its competitors. NASCAR has a difficult job officiating race events and we do not need to make the task more challenging. Wallace will not appeal the penalty, and will direct his immediate focus to this weekend’s event at the ISM Raceway.”

Kyle Larson was upset after the Texas race because Wallace’s spin came in the middle of green-flag pit stops and put Larson, who had already pitted, down a lap. Larson had been running in the top five before and finished 12th.

Larson said Friday at ISM Raceway that data available to all teams showed Wallace intentionally spun after having a flat tire.

Informed of Larson’s comments, Wallace told NBC Sports:

“I learned from Brad (Keselowski) and Joey (Logano).”

Asked if he was worried about any repercussions, Wallace told NBC Sports: “Until they do anything, no. I’m not the only one to do it. I’m racing for myself. Not for Larson. Not for Chevrolet at that moment. For myself and going multiple laps down.”

NASCAR’s Scott Miller is scheduled to meet with the media later today to discuss the penalty.