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NASCAR Senior VP: Bodywork mods draw scrutiny

Two instances of bodywork modification -- one mid-race, one post-race -- caught the eye of NASCAR officials during last Saturday's Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway.


Scott Miller, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition, detailed those circumstances in a Monday morning appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio's "Morning Drive" program.

Kyle Busch scored his third Sprint Cup victory of the season in Saturday night's GoBowling 400, breaking an 0-for-16 drought at the 1.5-mile Kansas City track, historically a stumbling block for the reigning series champ. Busch's exuberant post-race burnout shredded the right-rear tire, causing significant damage to the fender of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota.


The notion of damaging a winning car to aid its path through post-race inspection became a trending topic during last season's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs, with drivers describing the tactic as almost commonplace. The No. 18 car will get a full going-over this week at the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina.


"We really don't like to see that happen," Miller told SiriusXM. "There was a little bit of a rash of it last year and we kind of got that in check, and this is the first time we've seen it in a while. We certainly don't like to see it, but I believe Kyle was very happy because he's really, really struggled at that race track and he just got a little overzealous there with the celebration.


"We've had a lot of JGR cars through NASCAR, so we have a pretty good idea of what they're doing with their stuff so I don't … it's not that suspicious to me, really."


The other bodywork issue that drew officials' attention, Miller said, involved the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 1 Chevrolet for driver Jamie McMurray . The team was flagged on Lap 30 in the 267-lap race for unapproved adjustments to the car's body during a pit stop. Miller used a football analogy to describe the alteration.


"We've gone to great lengths to get bracing in the side of the cars and define how all the parts and pieces have gotta be, and that's for one reason -- so that the sides don't cave in and the quarterpanels don't cave in," Miller said. "Their jackman looked like an offensive lineman throwing a block at the side of their car, so it caved the side in. We saw it, didn't like it, and back down pit road they came to fix it. That's just how it works. You can't pull on the skirts or cave the sides in or alter the body of the car on pit road, and that's what they did."


The penalty mandated that the No. 1 team make an unscheduled stop to restore the bodywork to its original condition, drawing a stern protest from CGR crew chief Matt McCall. Miller said replays of the violation helped soothe the situation.


"By the time he actually knew what video we had, he'd calmed quite down," Miller said.


Miller also said that NASCAR officials have experienced no major issues with teams properly fastening lug nuts in the two Sprint Cup races since clarifying the rules. The change has required officials to perform extra pre- and post-race checks for all 40 cars, but that the process has gone smoothly.


"We haven't had any problems since we asked them to comply with that, so it's actually been going pretty good," Miller said. "It's a little bit more work on us, but our guys are handling it really well and things have been good so far."

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