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March 4, 2018

Car chiefs for Nos. 48, 15 ejected at Las Vegas

Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports
Robert Laberge
Getty Images

RELATED: Starting lineup | Photos from Las Vegas

NASCAR officials have ejected the car chiefs for the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet and the Premium Motorsports No. 15 Chevrolet ahead of Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Both entries failed pre-race inspection three times before the start of the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM). Both Jimmie Johnson (driver of the No. 48) and Ross Chastain (No. 15) will start at the rear of the 37-car field.

Under the new deterrence guidelines in the 2018 NASCAR Rule Book, a crew member of NASCAR’s choosing is removed after a third inspection failure. Competition officials have ejected car chief Jesse Saunders from the No. 48 team roster and Lee Leslie from the No. 15 team’s at-track list.

Johnson was scheduled to start 14th in the third Monster Energy Series race of the year. He said he was unsure how the penalty would impact his day.

“I’m not sure. I’ve never been in this situation,” Johnson told FOX Sports during its pre-race broadcast. “Last weekend, there were some teams that had the same thing take place and they still had good finishes, so any race team out here is bigger than one person. Although I guess Jesse’s not going to be with us today, we have a lot of people who are very talented and ready to get going and fill in the void.”

Johnson is a four-time winner at the 1.5-mile Nevada track. Chastain is set to make just his fourth career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his first at the Las Vegas venue.