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February 26, 2022

Kurt Busch to serve pass-through penalty at Auto Club; multiple cars headed to rear Sunday

James Gilbert | Getty Images
James Gilbert
Getty Images

Seven NASCAR Cup Series teams failed pre-qualifying inspection multiple times Friday night at Auto Club Speedway and face penalties, with the most egregious impact coming to the No. 45 23XI Racing team of driver Kurt Busch.

The No. 45 Toyota failed pre-qualifying inspection three times, meaning it wasn’t eligible to qualify for Sunday’s 400-mile race (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) and then must serve a pass-through penalty once the race goes green. In addition, car chief David Bryant was ejected from the event.

RELATED: Auto Club weekend schedule | Practice groups, qualifying order for Auto Club

The following cars failed inspection twice, and will have a crew member ejected from the event and lose their respective pit stall selection for the race: the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team of driver Kevin Harvick (car chief Robert Smith ejected); the No. 6 Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing team of Brad Keselowski (car chief Nick Case ejected); the No. 12 Team Penske team of Ryan Blaney (car chief Raymond Fox ejected); the No. 22 Team Penske team of Joey Logano (car chief Jerry Kelly ejected); the No. 23 23XI Racing team of Bubba Wallace (engineer Etienne Cliche ejected); and the No. 78 Live Fast Motorsports team of B.J. McLeod (car chief Tyler Graf ejected).

UPDATE: The following cars were confirmed to be dropping to the rear before the green flag for Sunday’s race: No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet of Ross Chastain for backup car; No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford of Kevin Harvick, No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Kyle Larson, No. 6 Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing Ford of Brad Keselowski, No. 22 Team Penske Ford of Joey Logano, No. 23 23XI Racing Toyota of Bubba Wallace and No. 31 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet of Justin Haley, all for unapproved adjustments.

For the first time since March 2020, practice was back as a regular staple on the NASCAR schedule as the garage opened on Saturday.

On most ovals this season, including this week at Auto Club, teams will be split into two groups based on odd/even finishing order from the week’s previous race for one 15-minute warm-up/practice session per group. That will lead directly into single-car, single-lap qualifying. The top five drivers from each group will then advance to the second round of qualifying to fight for the pole with another single-car, single-lap run.