NASCAR docks Kyle Busch's truck team post-Iowa
July 15, 2014, Zack Albert, NASCAR.com
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NASCAR on Tuesday issued penalties to the Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 51 team for failing a post-race inspection after its victory in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' most recent race at Iowa Speedway.
NASCAR stripped the team of 10 points in the series' truck owner championship standings and docked driver Erik Jones 10 points in the drivers' standings. The team also fined crew chief Eric Phillips $6,000 and placed him on probation until Dec. 31.
The most recent penalty falls under the heading of a P2-class infraction, according to the new NASCAR deterrence system implemented during the offseason. Penalties are weighted according to a scale from P1 (least severe) to P6.
Jones drove to his second career win in the series last Friday night after leading 131 of 200 laps, but his No. 51 Toyota measured too low in the rear after the American Ethanol 200. It was the second straight week that the truck failed a ride-height requirement; the No. 51 driven to victory by owner/driver Kyle Busch at Kentucky Speedway on June 26 measured too low in the front. The most recent penalty included a steeper fine than the initial $5,000 fee and added probation for Phillips presumably because of a repeat offense.
While NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams transitioned to a rules package without a minimum ride height in 2014, rules governing ride heights remain in place for NASCAR Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series teams.
Friday night after the race, Phillips said that there was little connection between the two technical violations.
"The Kentucky deal is completely a different thing," Phillips said. "We were probably pushing tolerances there, but that's our job to do, but here it wasn't that, by no means. We'll just have to figure it out Monday and see what happens."
Busch addressed the problem after Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, saying that the issue was similar to the JR Motorsports No. 9 team for driver Chase Elliott in the Nationwide Series in terms of experiencing difficulty in maintaining post-race heights within the rules. That team was hit with a P2-level penalty for being too low in the front after finishing fifth at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March.
"There's a tolerance or a window of I think a quarter inch that you're allowed in green," Busch said. "Well, we start at the low side of that because that's the way our setup is. So it doesn't really give us that much space to go through the yellow, which I think is three-eighths of an inch or so. The Nationwide cars, I think that tolerance is a half-inch. They widened it and guys are not having issues now because the tolerance is bigger.
"Our trucks still seem to be having that issue just because the tolerance window wasn't opened up as what Nationwide is, so we're trying to get it the best we can. It's our front end setup stuff. People know what we're running. They know what we're doing. It's just a matter of trying to get it fine-tuned a little bit more, where we can start higher and maybe maintain a little bit better height if they don't change the rule."
Jones, 18, is not running a full schedule in the Camping World Truck Series, splitting time with Busch this season in the No. 51 truck. Busch remains atop the truck owner standings despite the penalty, but his lead over ThorSport Racing's Rhonda Thorson and the No. 88 team of defending series champion Matt Crafton shrank from 38 to 28 points.