Wayne Auton

NASCAR disqualifies Kyle Busch; Austin Cindric declared winner

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Kyle Busch’s winning car failed inspection and was disqualified, handing the victory in Saturday’s Xfinity race to Austin Cindric, who crossed the finish line second. Busch’s car failed post-race height measurements for the left rear. Cindric’s car passed inspection after the race.

The team has until noon ET Monday to file an appeal.

“It’s bothersome, it pisses me off,” Busch said after winning Saturday night’s Truck race. “We come out here and raced and run hard, score a win and then it gets taken away from you. It sucks because it’s nothing we did. We even put a round in the right rear during the race in order to help the handling characteristic and the left rear was low, so I don’t know. There’s nothing I can do about it. You just kind of move on. I guess NASCAR just wants me here longer.”

Cindric has now won three races in a row, including his doubleheader sweep last weekend at Kentucky Speedway. Busch is scored last in the 37-car field.

Wayne Auton, managing director of the Xfinity Series, said officials did not see any damage that would have caused the problem with the left rear of Busch’s car Saturday.

Because the team can appeal, Auton declined to say by how much Busch’s car was too low but that it was “definitely in the red.”

“The teams know the guidelines, they know the rules,” Auton said after the race.

“I really don’t understand what happened there,” Busch said after the Truck race. “I don’t know why we would have been too low. Obviously, you start the cars in the green and then there’s a leeway, I don’t know if it’s 3/8th of an inch or what it is on the sticks before you fall into the red, and we were 1/16th into the red.

“It doesn’t make any sense to me. The only thing I can think of is when they’re allowed to unhook the shocks and pull the front of the car up, they overpulled the front of the car up, which dipped it on the left rear because the left rear spring is kind of soft and lowered the left rear spoiler height where they check it all the way at the back of the car, so that made it low.

“If the front was a half-inch high or whatever and they would have let it push the front down to minimum legal, it probably would have picked the back up and the back would have been fine.”

Brian Wilson, crew chief for Cindric, explained how a car that was low in the left rear might benefit on the track.

“They’ve always got fast race cars,” Wilson said of the Joe Gibbs Racing team. “I don’t want to take anything away from those guys because they’re really good, but the saying in racing is always low left and light. That helps get your car down and helps lower the CG and there’s a reason why there are rules in place. It’s our job to toe the line and I’m always worried about stuff like that. I definitely feel bad for those guys. That’s not how you want to lose a race. They executed a really good race and they were out ahead of us by a good amount. Maybe on the restart it played a little bit of a difference, but I feel like we’ve got some things that we should work on as far as restarts go, so I’m not gonna say that was the reason why those guys were in Victory Lane earlier, but it definitely doesn’t hurt.”

The most recent Xfinity winner to be disqualified was Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 car at Darlington last year. That car failed a pair of height requirements and Denny Hamlin’s win was taken away. Cole Custer was declared the winner of that race.

Auton also discussed matters involving Justin Allgaier and Chase Briscoe during the race.

NASCAR penalized Allgaier for blending on to the track too soon after a pit stop. Allgaier served his pass-through penalty down pit road on Lap 169 of the 201-lap race.

“Whenever we saw (Allgaier) go up the racetrack, we pulled up the video as quickly as we could to make sure what we saw with the 7 exiting pit road was what we saw with the naked eye,” Auton said. ” With all the video we had up top, definitely he went up the racetrack in (Turns) 1 and 2. I pulled up the driver meeting notes before we issued the penalty to make sure that I didn’t write it wrong, we had it out there and it plainly states that exiting pit road you must stay below the white line until exiting Turn 2. He went up the racetrack. … I had a conversation with Justin about it. He sees our point. The penalty was assessed like it should be.

NBCSN’s cameras caught Chase Briscoe throwing a water bottle out of his car on to the track before a pit stop. He said after the race he was getting rid of the water bottle to help save time before getting another water bottle on what would be a two-tire pit stop.

Auton said he wasn’t aware of that situation but “definitely will look into that. That’s not something that we really like to see. I don’t think all of the drivers like to see it either.”

NASCAR in ‘good place’ with Harrison Burton, Noah Gragson after fight

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Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, says that series officials will keep an eye on Harrison Burton and Noah Gragson moving forward but that the sanctioning body feels it is in a “good place” with those drivers after their fight last weekend at Kentucky Speedway.

Gragson punched Burton after Burton repeatedly shoved him in the garage area as they discussed their contact on the track late in Friday night’s Xfinity Series race at Kentucky Speedway. A NASCAR spokesperson said Friday night that no penalties were anticipated.

Asked about where matters stood between NASCAR and the two drivers, Miller told “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Monday morning:

“I personally wasn’t in the post-race conversations. (NASCAR Xfinity Series Managing Director) Wayne Auton does a great job with that and the report that I got from him is he talked to some of the crew members that were involved and obviously both of the drivers. I think we got to a good place. They’re going to have some words this week and try to make sure we’re in a good spot when we start the weekend next weekend in Texas. We feel like we’re OK.

“This is an emotional sport and there’s going to be things like that that crop up. It’s not a great situation for us to deal with as a sanctioning body, but we also want the emotion in the sport. That’s what makes it so special. Those things are unfortunate, but we do know from time to time those are going to happen. If we feel good about the conversations we’ve had, in a lot of cases we’re going to move on from that and keep an eye on those individuals moving forward.”

Matt DiBenedetto: Indy road course ‘everything we could ask for’

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After a morning spent testing on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, Matt DiBenedetto admits the circuit is “tougher than I thought,” but that its 14- and 12-turn formats have “everything we could ask for” competitively.

The Wood Brothers Racing driver piloted a No. 22 Team Penske car around the road course for the only scheduled test ahead of the Xfinity Series’ debut on the circuit July 4 (1:30 p.m. ET on NBC).

“The part that I like the most about this course is that it actually does have multiple passing opportunities, and that was one of the things we wanted to evaluate is how it’s going to race, how technical it is in the passing zone,” DiBenedetto said during a press conference between test sessions.

“So the cool thing is what we love as road racers is heavy braking zones. Clearly, the end of the front straightaway here, you have a very heavy braking zone. You also have another long back straightaway getting into Turn 7, which is a heavy braking zone. And then on the 14-turn course, you have another braking zone coming into (Turns) 12, 13, and 14. When you come up onto the short chute, get on the brakes, get on there.

“There’s high-speed stuff. There’s low-speed stuff. So it’s pretty much everything we could ask for from a competitor’s standpoint for raceability. Also, the little chicane back there coming on the back straightaway is really technical. I’m still figuring out my approach to that. There’s a lot of different elements to the racetrack that makes it exciting.”

DiBenedetto described how the Indy track compares to other road courses that NASCAR series compete on.

“Coming off of that chicane, exiting it, I’ve made comparisons to Sonoma already,” DiBendetto said. “Then some of the low-speed stuff, where you’re in either first or second gear, I’ve compared to Mid-Ohio, which is also a really neat course.

“And then I guess you could compare it to maybe a Watkins Glen or something, where you’re flying down the front straightaway and then you have a real heavy braking zone, which is perfect, which allows the opportunity to pull out and try and pass people and outbrake and all those different things.”

DiBenedetto said there is “no doubt” there will be physical racing come July.

“There’s a lot of areas not only to try and outbrake and pass, but actually set up in the prior corner, to set up for those passing zones and things like that,” DiBenedetto said. “There’s some low-speed stuff where people might just use their bumper and knock them out of the way, whatever. So there’s opportunities for all of that.”

The main goals of the test were to gather data that will help NASCAR determine which road course format to use, how long the race will be, evaluate safety concerns and to gather info for Goodyear.

Wayne Auton, Xfinity Series managing director, said Goodyear brought tire setups from the Xfinity Series races at Road America and Mid-Ohio, as well as the Charlotte Roval. The morning session had DiBenedetto using the Roval tires.

“Goodyear is getting a lot of data with Matt’s feel inside the race car,” Auton said during the press conference. “And going down into this long straightaway and into that real slow Turn 1 area … Matt’s done us a great job, and we’re getting a lot of input. We’ll do some maybe 10-lap runs here this afternoon and see what we find out from that and take that back, and then we’ll decide on which course we’re going to run.”

Auton said that video from a GoPro camera placed in DiBenedetto’s car will be shared with drivers who will compete in the July 4 race (DiBenedetto will not be eligible to compete due to conducting the test) and that some data collected by Team Penske would be shared with competitors.

The main difference between the 12- and 14-turn layout is the final section of the circuit, which empties from the infield road course onto what is Turn 1 of the oval. In the 12-turn format, cars drive completely through Turn 1 (Turn 12) heading the opposite way Cup cars will drive when they race on the oval for the July 5 Brickyard 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, NBC)

On the 14-turn layout, after returning to the oval from the infield portion of the road course in the short chute between Oval Turn 1 and 2, there is sharp right-hander (Turn 12) toward the infield, followed by a left-hander (Turn 13) which leads back to the frontstretch (Turn 14). It is the same portion of the track IndyCar uses for its race on that circuit two weeks before the Indianapolis 500.

DiBenedetto said both the 12- or 14-turn format “would put on great racing.”

“The 14-turn course, you’re coming up on that short chute, and it’s right on edge, and you get to brake right next to the wall there (in the short chute between oval Turns 1 and 2), which is pretty cool, and it’s just really unique. I can’t compare that to anything actually. So that’s a cool technical passing zone opportunity.

“Then on the 12-turn course, it spiked the old heart rate pretty good coming through backwards through oval Turn 1 … That was very weird.”

 

NASCAR makes changes to pit stops for select Xfinity, Truck races

Photo by Malcolm Hope/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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NASCAR will implement new pit stop rules for select Xfinity and Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series races in 2020, the sanctioning body revealed Tuesday.

The rules will be in place for most Xfinity and Truck races that do not compete with the Cup Series at the same track on the same weekend.

Here are the new rules for the select Xfinity and Truck races this season:

  • The field is frozen when the caution is displayed. Stage breaks will have a full pit cycle (two opportunities to pit). For non-stage breaks there will be a full pit cycle (two opportunities to pit). There also could be an optional quickie yellow (one opportunity to pit).
  • The team roster will consist of eight crew members at these events. The pit crew — four to service the car, one fueler and one driver assist — must come from among those eight team members on the roster. This is a way to help teams save money since they won’t need to pay for the services of a pit crew that is not a part of their team roster.
  • The pit stop must be completed within a designated time period. That time will be determined later.
  • On an oval track, teams may add fuel and change two tires per stop.
  • On a road course, teams may add fuel or change four tires per stop.

NASCAR stated that the following penalties will be issued for violations: 

  • Cars will start at the tail end of the field if they exceed the time limit on pit road.
  • If a car is involved in an incident, the team will be allowed to change four tires at once to avoid damaging the vehicle but will start at the tail end of the field.
  • A car will start at the tail end if it pits other than on the designated lap.

NASCAR will issue two-lap penalties for the following violations:

  • Change four tires and add fuel on any pit stop
  • Change tires under green (unless approved by NASCAR for damage)
  • Perform a four-tire stop on any pit stop (on oval track only)

For the restart, the field will line up:

  • Vehicles that did not pit
  • Vehicles that pitted one time, followed by vehicles that pitted two times
  • Free pass vehicle, wave around vehicles and penalty vehicles.

As for the reason for the change in format at the select races, Eric Peterson, technical manager for the NASCAR Xfinity Series, said: “We believe this procedure will increase competition on track, incentivize different strategy plays to bring interesting storylines for the fans and bring efficiencies to teams that will help help strengthen the garage now and into the future.”

The new rules will be in place for Xfinity races at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (May 30), Iowa Speedway (June 13 and Aug. 1) and Road America (Aug.  8). Truck races at Iowa Speedway (June 12), World Wide Technology Raceway (Aug. 21) and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (Sept. 6) will use the new procedures.

The Truck race at Eldora Speedway (July 30) already has special rules regarding pit stops.

The exception for the Truck Series is the June 5 race at Texas Motor Speedway. That race will not have these special rules.

Peterson said NASCAR is using these races “as an avenue to test and try this out. … We wanted to dip our toe in the water and do a deliberate, strategic approach to implementing and getting a look at it. The reason why we selected the events we did was because they are standalone events. Any events for the Gander Truck Series and the Xfinity Series that are not with Cup presents some challenges from a logistical end from doing the pit stop. This is a way to alleviate the burden that teams have with performing pit stops at the races that are not companion events to the Cup Series.”

Peterson said the reasoning for limiting what teams can do on pit stops is to alter strategies and restarts.

“All the teams that consistently run in the top 10, our current pit stop strategy really did not mix the field up very well,” Peterson said. “It was an average position change of right around one position. That’s the reason we took this other approach. The purpose of coming down pit road and doing pit stops is to hopefully mix the field up a little bit where you don’t have a follow-the-leader race the entire race. What we currently have at all the other events does not mix that up very well. That was one of the reasons we are going this route with these standalone races.”

The first Iowa race last year saw Christopher Bell lead 186 of 250 laps to win. There were two lead changes in the last 190 laps of that race. Last year’s Truck race at Iowa saw Ross Chastain lead the final 141 laps to take the checkered flag before his victory was taken away when his truck failed post-race inspection.

Peterson said that while each race will still have three stages, the length of the stages will be altered to prevent the need for a green-flag pit stop. In 2019, the final stage was typically longer than a fuel run, forcing teams to stop. The final stage will be shortened for 2020.

Peterson said fans will play a role in determining if this system is used in more races.

“The primary driver of that will be fan interest and engagement and feedback we get from the fans, along with how we see the races play out and utilizing the metrics we have here for passing,” he said.

Peterson also said the focus remains on the Xfinity and Truck Series for these rules.

“Right now there are no plans for the Cup Series,” he said.

Wayne Auton, the Xfinity Series managing director, said Wednesday morning on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that the designated time will be based on when a car enters pit road, crossing a yellow line, and when it exits pit road by crossing a yellow line.

Auton also addressed what would happen if a race on a road course started in dry conditions and then it rained, forcing teams to change to rain tires.

Auton said NASCAR would throw a caution and open pit road and declare the caution is for weather or track conditions. Teams then have the option to come down pit road and change to rain tires. At any time during the race, teams will be approved to come down pit road under green to change to slicks if the track dries. Auton said that teams will have a minimum time that they cannot beat — the time from when the car enters pit road road, performs its service and exits pit road — in those green-flag stops.

 

NASCAR details penalty for missing chicane on Roval

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UPDATE: The same video message was played in the Cup drivers meeting Sunday about what happens if a competitor misses a chicane. Jay Fabian, Cup series director, did not reiterate the matter in his comments to the drivers. There were no questions from Cup drivers in the meeting.

CONCORD, N.C. — NASCAR detailed multiple times during Saturday’s Xfinity Series drivers meeting the penalty for missing a chicane during the race.

In a video played for the competitors, it stated:

“Missing the chicane on the backstretch will require a vehicle to perform a stop and go in the restart zone. A vehicle must come to a complete stop in the restart zone. If the stop and go is not performed as described, the vehicle will be assessed a pass through penalty.

“Missing the entry into the chicane on the frontstretch, Turn 15, will require a vehicle to perform a stop and go. A vehicle must come to a complete stop in the restart zone. If the stop and go is not performed in the restart zone, the vehicle will be assessed a pass through penalty.

“Missing the exit of the chicane on the frontstretch, Turns 16 and 17, will require a vehicle to perform a stop and go in the designated area to drivers left on the stage path prior to the start/finish line. If the stop and go is not performed prior to crossing the start/finish line, the vehicle will be assessed a pass through penalty.

“If in the closing laps of the race, there is not enough time to asses the pass through penalty, a postrace time penalty of 30 seconds will be assessed to the vehicle’s total time prior to the posting of the race results.”

After the video, Wayne Auton, managing director of the Xfinity Series, said this about missing a chicane:

“Definition of missing or shortcutting a chicane. You will judged as missing or shortcutting a chicane when all four tires are on the non-track side of the red-and-white rumble strips that define the chicanes.

“If in NASCAR’s discretion a competitor deliberately misses a chicane, that competitor will be assessed a drive through penalty.

“If a competitor is judged to miss a chicane to avoid an accident, NASCAR may, in its discretion, forego penalties and adjust the lineup based on the running position prior to the avoidance of the maneuver.

“Under no circumstances can you miss a chicane and gain positions after a penalty is served.”

Two questions were asked by competitors about missing a chicane:

From Justin Allgaier: “If we miss the back straightaway chicane and there is a caution before we make it to the stop on the front straightaway, what happens?

Auton: “Justin’s question is if we miss the chicane on the backstretch and before you can serve your penalty of the stop and go in the restart zone, you will be assessed a tail of the field on the restart.

From Austin Cindric: “What if you miss the chicane to avoid an accident?”

Auton: “In NASCAR’s judgment if you try to avoid an accident, we may asses a penalty. May.

Also, NASCAR addressed the issue of starts and restarts.

From the video:

“Wave around and free pass vehicles are not permitted to shortcut the chicanes.”

“On the start and all restarts, vehicles that have excited the rear chicane prior to the green flag being displayed may go straight and bypass the front chicane once.”

Auton told competitors:

“On the start and all restarts, vehicles that have exited the rear chicane, you must be clear of the chicane to be able to go straight on the front. If you are on the Turn 10, 11 side of the chicane that’s before you get there, you must run the full course on the front.