NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell, appearing on "The Morning Drive" on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Monday, said he did not expect the sanctioning body to take action against Joe Gibbs Racing for its strategy of dropping three cars to the back of the pack during Sunday's Chase elimination race at Talladega Superspeedway.
O'Donnell said employing that strategy did not constitute a violation of NASCAR's 100 percent rule.
"I would say that they do not fall into that," O'Donnell said when asked about the 100 percent rule. "The spirit of that rule is really to prevent somebody from intentionally allowing another teammate to do something that would not be really within the spirit of the rules of the race.
"In this case, we look at the strategy decision that the team made, and they executed it. ... In this case, that wouldn't be something that we look at that violated that rule."
O'Donnell also reiterated previous comments from Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller, saying he did not anticipate action against the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota team of Martin Truex Jr. for a part (left-front jack bolt) confiscated during pre-qualifying inspection. Truex went on to win the Coors Light Pole Award, but engine problems during Sunday's race prevented him from advancing in the Chase.
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"It was a part that we took. We just want to take it back to the (NASCAR) R&D Center and just do a little more research where we've got a little more time to look at it," O'Donnell said. "I think that Scott Miller went on and talked about it, we don't anticipate something big around points (penalties), but we just want to make sure when we go back and take a look at that part, what we can learn and if there's anything to react to, we will."
Nor did O'Donnell anticipate action against the Nos. 11, 18 and 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas of Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth, who were asked to go back through qualifying inspection Saturday when NASCAR noticed an issue with the right-rear quarter panels around the deck lid area. The cars were pulled out of line and the issue corrected before they passed through tech.
"I think our reaction there is the penalty that's in place is really that five-minute clock," O'Donnell said, referring to the time limit on fixing issues discovered in the qualifying line. "So if we find something, the car has to go back through inspection and the penalty that we've put in place is in-race. And we feel like that's severe enough if a team is not able to fix that part or piece that we found and was not able to qualify, that's the penalty that's in place for that violation."
All three of those JGR cars, along with teammate Carl Edwards, advanced to the Round of 8, which O'Donnell said was a top-flight field of drivers who have all won a race this season. In response to Truex and Brad Keselowski (tied for season-best four wins) not advancing past Sunday, O'Donnell said the current playoff system rewards teams that get hot much like other sports.
"You've got to compete at the highest level through those last 10 races and sometimes things happen in sports," O'Donnell said. "We're seeing a quality field of eight drivers who have all won races heading into the Chase, which I believe is a first for this round and for this amount of time. Really excited to see who's going to get hot or continue to stay hot through the remainder of the races."