NASCAR officially suspended two Cup Series crew chiefs and fined two others Tuesday as part of the penalty report from last weekend’s national-series tripleheader at Darlington Raceway.
Competition officials found two cars each with two lug nuts not safely secured in a post-race check after Sunday’s Cook Out Southern 500, the first of 10 races in the Cup Series Playoffs. That resulted in $20,000 fines and one-race suspension of crew chiefs for the following teams:
- No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford (crew chief Johnny Klausmeier) of driver Clint Bowyer
- No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota (crew chief Adam Stevens) of driver Kyle Busch
The penalty would keep both crew chiefs at home for the next points-paying Cup Series race, Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Two other teams were found with one unsecured lug nut each at Darlington. The infraction meant $10,000 fines for the teams of:
- No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford of race winner Kevin Harvick
- No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of William Byron
The Cup Series side of the penalty report also included mention of pre-race penalties assessed to the No. 12 Team Penske Ford for improperly mounted ballast. The violation meant the ejection of crew chief Todd Gordon before Sunday’s 500-miler, plus a 10-point deduction for Ryan Blaney in the Cup Series driver standings. Blaney also dropped to the rear of the field in pace laps.
“It’s a zero-mistakes game and a big mistake was made,” said Travis Geisler, Team Penske’s competition director. Geisler filled in for Gordon on the No. 12 Sunday night, marking his first crew chief stint since 2010. “The timing was probably about as bad as possible, but that’s the way it goes. Everybody has to take a look at the whole program and what happens.”
Geisler said the Penske organization plans to take a better account of how many ballast bags are added when its team weighs its cars during each stage of preparation.
In the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, officials issued a $2,500 fine to crew chief Kevin Bellicourt of Bill McAnally Racing after the No. 19 Toyota for driver Derek Kraus was found with one unsecured lug nut after Sunday’s South Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Darlington.