Chase Elliott’s quest for a three-peat at Watkins Glen International will have to begin from the rear of the field — and without his crew chief.
The No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet failed pre-race inspection twice Sunday morning at the Upstate New York track, forcing Elliott to the back of the pack for the start of the race and leading to the ejection of crew chief Alan Gustafson. Elliott was set to start 11th.
Daytona Road Course winner Christopher Bell finds himself in a similar boat to Elliott, with his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota sent to the rear and crew chief Adam Stevens ejected. Bell was slated to start seventh.
Both cars were assessed L1 penalties for violating Rules 126.96.36.199.a and 188.8.131.52.b (rear-window air deflectors). The penalty also includes a loss of 10 driver and owner points and a $25,000 fine.
“Unfortunately today at Watkins Glen, the No. 9 car had an issue at technical inspection,” Hendrick Vice President of Competition Chad Knaus said in a team release. “The team has been assessed with an L1 penalty and Alan has been suspended from the race. Tom Gray, lead engineer of the No. 9, will take over calling the race in Alan’s absence. It’s an unfortunate circumstance for Alan, Chase and the race team. We apologize to our fans and partners associated with the No. 9 team, and will now focus forward on achieving the best possible results in today’s race.”
Elliott, who owns a whopping seven road-course wins, has won the past two races at The Glen, dating back to 2018.