The No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota failed pre-qualifying inspection three times Saturday at Auto Club Speedway while the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet failed twice, as confirmed by a NASCAR spokesperson. As a result, the No. 19 team of Martin Truex Jr. was not permitted to qualify for the race and will start from the back.
The team also loses a crew member (car chief Blake Harris) for the duration of the weekend and will serve a 15-minute practice penalty at the next NASCAR Cup Series event (Phoenix Raceway). The car passed on the fourth time through inspection. Truex was the 2018 winner of the NASCAR Cup Series race at Auto Club.
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For his part, Truex is not concerned about having to come from the back of the field and his 38th-starting spot. He placed third in the 10- and 15-lap averages in final practice.
“I’m always optimistic,” Truex said. “I did feel good about our car. It seemed like long runs we were pretty strong. Hopefully, we will have a lot of those tomorrow and be able to use them to our advantage.”
For the No. 1 team and Kurt Busch, who is the 2003 Auto Club winner, they will be without car chief Nick Case this weekend and will serve a 15-minute practice penalty at the next event.
Contributing: RJ Kraft