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Tech Talk: No. 88 among teams given written warnings

June 17, 2015, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com

Dale Earnhardt Jr. car
News and notes from around the garage

Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 team was one of four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams that received written warnings for pre-qualifying or pre-race inspection issues this past weekend at Michigan International Speedway.

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Earnhardt's team, overseen this year by crew chief Greg Ives, needed three trips to clear pre-race inspection leading into Sunday's Quicken Loans 400.

The Joe Gibbs Racing entries of Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards, along with that of Phil Parsons Racing with driver Josh Wise, had issues in pre-qualifying inspection, and made more than two trips through the line before heading out to pit road on Friday.

Failing to pass either pre-qualifying or pre-race inspection twice results in a written warning from the sanctioning body; failing a third time will result in a 15-minute loss of practice penalty at the next scheduled event.

In March, teams were notified that beginning with the Phoenix race weekend, the series' fourth race, any vehicle failing qualifying inspection more than twice would be subject to a 15-minute practice penalty.

Officials began issuing written warnings prior to this year's race at Richmond International Raceway due to the number of teams requiring multiple passes through inspections. It was noted at that time that had the policy been in place the previous week, when the series was at Bristol Motor Speedway, it would have resulted in nine written warnings and three teams would have received time penalties.

Since the policy was adopted, there have 44 written warnings issued to Sprint Cup teams.

The warnings are a part of NASCAR's 2015 Deterrence Policy, which categorizes infractions (Level 1 through Level 6) and the applicable penalties.

If the same team receives two warnings during the same event, or during two consecutive events, the P1 penalties may include last choice in the pit selection process, a deduction in track time for practice or qualifying, a delay in the order of inspection or selection for post-race inspection.

If a team or member receives six or more warnings during a six-month period (from the time of the first warning), the penalty may be increased to P2.

P2 level penalty options may include the loss of 10 championship driver and owner points and/or a fine not less than $10,000 and not more than $25,000. P2 level infractions also carry the potential for suspensions and probation.

Lug Nut or Valve Stem Issue?

Flat tires caused when valve stems have been knocked off by lug nuts during pit stops have been a recurring issue for teams this season. The No. 19 of Joe Gibbs Racing driver Carl Edwards, the No. 27 of Paul Menard (Richard Childress Racing) and more recently, the No. 4 of Kevin Harvick (Stewart-Haas Racing) are among those that have been affected by the problem.

According to some in the garage, the problem isn't that the lug nuts occasionally strike the stem during a tire change. Instead, it's how the stem is seated in the wheel that makes it easier to be knocked off.

"I don't even know how to fix it," Rodney Childers, crew chief for Harvick, said after Sunday's race at Michigan International Speedway. "Definitely got to do something though."

Appeal Denied

The National Motorsports Appeals Panel has upheld P3 level penalties handed down to the No. 97 NASCAR XFINITY Series team during last month's race at Dover International Speedway.

NASCAR penalized the team, Obaika Racing, and driver Peyton Sellers for an improperly attached weight that fell out of the vehicle during practice at DIS. Fellow driver Carl Long struck the dislodged weight, resulting in a crash.

Crew chief John Monsam was fined $15,000. He and car chief David Jones were suspended from the series' next points race and placed on probation through Dec. 31. Sellers and team owner Victor Obaika were penalized 15 championship driver and owner points, respectively.

The team appealed only the loss of driver and owner points.

The team has the right to appeal the Panel's decision to National Motorsports Final Appeals officer Bryan Moss.

Short Race, Short List

Sunday's rain-shortened Quicken Loans 400 at MIS produced a record low eight penalties on race day. Six of the eight were for teams pitting before pit road was open.

The Tommy Baldwin Racing No. 7 team, with driver Alex Bowman, was flagged for having too many crew members in contact with the pit service area while the No. 23 of J.J. Yeley (BK Racing) was penalized an engine change prior to start of the race.

The previous low for penalties was 10 during this year's race at Richmond International Raceway.