Chip Ganassi Racing’s Chad Johnston has become the fourth Sprint Cup Series crew chief to be suspended in eight days. During post-race inspection following Kyle Larson’s eleventh-place finish on Monday at Pocono Raceway, it was discovered that all the lug nuts on his Number-42 Chevrolet were not properly tightened.
Johnston received a one-race suspension, was fined twenty thousand dollars and placed on NASCAR probation through December 31 st . On June 1 st, Cup Series crew chiefs Randall Burnett (who works with A-J Allmendinger), Tony Gibson (Kurt Busch) and Brian Pattie (Greg Biffle) were suspended for rule violations at Charlotte.
In addition to Johnston’s suspension, six Cup teams were given written warnings on Wednesday for a variety of inspection violations at Pocono. Drivers whose teams were warned are Aric Almirola, Matt DiBenedetto, Ty Dillon, Jamie McMurray, Danica Patrick and Regan Smith.
Three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series crew chiefs were fined and suspended with Brian Pattie getting hit the hardest with a two-race suspension and a $50,000 fine.
Pattie, crew chief for Greg Biffle and the No. 16 team, which was also assessed with the loss of 15 championship owner and 15 championship driver points, was issued a P3 penalty after violating sections 12-1; 20.4.1; 20.4.2 a,b,c; 184.108.40.206.1 c of the NASCAR Rule Book – illegal body measurements.
With the penalty, Biffle drops from 23rd to 24th in the standings.
Randall Burnett (crew chief for AJ Allmendinger) and Tony Gibson (crew chief for Kurt Busch) were each suspended one race (P3) and fined $20,000 after violating 10.11.3.4 a of the Rule Book, which states: “All tires, and wheels, and all five lug nuts must be installed in a safe and secure manner at all times during the Event.”
All three crew chiefs were placed on NASCAR probation through Dec. 31, including Tony Stewart’s crew chief Mike Bugarewicz after he was issued a P2 penalty for violating sections 20.4 b; 20. 4.2 a; 12.1; 220.127.116.11.2 d of the Rule Book in pre-race inspection – body design and surface conformance.
NASCAR also issued written warnings in Wednesday’s Penalty Report to the team’s of Paul Menard, Matt Kenseth, Aric Almirola, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Menard will lose 15 minutes of practice time at Pocono Raceway after the team failed template inspection three times in pre-qualifying.
There are thirty-nine drivers on the preliminary entry list for Sunday’s Auto Club 400 including thirty-six “Charter” teams. The three non-Charter drivers are rookie Ryan Blaney, Cole Whitt and Josh Wise.
There are six Cup Series competitors who are signed up for double duty and will also drive in Saturday’s X-FINITY Series race: Blaney, Aric Almirola, Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Larson. Harvick is the defending race winner. Busch leads all drivers with six X-FINITY Series wins on the two-mile Fontana oval including a stretch of three in a row in 2010 and 2011.
Joe Gibbs leads all car owners with eight victories there, all coming consecutively from 2008 through 2012. Busch, Joey Logano and Tony Stewart contributed to that run of success.
Next Stop… Las Vegas Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Kobalt 400 the third race of the 2016 Sprint Cup Series and the second weekend for NASCAR’s new low-downforce rules package. Teams had a pair of practice sessions on Thursday with Jimmie Johnson posting the fastest overall speed of 192.981 miles per hour. Aric Almirola, Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin, Austin Dillon and Matt Kenseth completed the top five. Joey Logano had the fastest average speed over ten consecutive laps, 187.604 miles per hour.
Kevin Harvick, the defending race winner, failed to crack the top ten in either of Thursday’s two sessions. In last year’sKobalt 400, Harvick started eighteenth and finished first. Jeff Gordon started first and finished eighteenth.
Hamlin hit the wall during Thursday afternoon’s test session. His Number-11 Joe Gibbs Racing team will use a back-up Toyota this weekend. Teams will get ninety more minutes of practice today before qualifying late this afternoon. Kasey Kahne has the track record for poles with three, one ahead of Kyle Busch – who’s the only Cup Series driver to win a race in Vegas after starting from the pole position. That victory came in 2009.
Johnson leads all drivers with four wins at L-V-M-S, including a run of three straight from 2005 through 2007.
He’s coming off his seventy-sixth career win last weekend in Atlanta, which tied the late Dale Earnhardt for seventh place on NASCAR’s all-time list. The last driver with back-to-back wins in the Sprint Cup Series is Logano, who put three victories in a row together during last year’s post-season Chase.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Top 10 Finishers in the Quicken Loans 500
DRIVER STARTING POSITION LAPS LED
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Kevin Harvick
- Joey Logano
- Kyle Busch
- Jimmie Johnson
- Jeff Gordon
- Kurt Busch
- Denny Hamlin
- Brad Keselowski
- Aric Almirola
Sunday’s victory for Dale Earnhardt Junior is his third of the season and the twenty-sixth of his career – three of which have come at Phoenix International Raceway. The first two were back-to-back in 2003 and 2004 … Among active drivers, “Junior” is now third on the track’s win list behind Kevin Harvick (seven) and Jimmie Johnson (four).
Chevrolet has won five straight Sprint Cup Series races at P-I-R and six of the last seven … Johnson started from the pole, led the first forty-four laps and finished fifth in Sunday’s race.
Thus far, all nine post-season races this year have been won by drivers who were on the original sixteen-man Chase Grid.