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October 16, 2023

NASCAR officials rescind disqualification of Team Penske No. 12, Blaney at Vegas

NASCAR officials rescinded the disqualification of Ryan Blaney’s Team Penske No. 12 Ford on Monday after further inspection of his car from Sunday’s Cup Series event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The decision restores Blaney’s sixth-place finish in Sunday’s South Point 400 and provides him with better footing in the Cup Series Playoffs’ Round of 8, which continues Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

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Blaney and the team were initially disqualified after post-race technical inspection at the 1.5-mile Nevada track, where competition officials ruled that the left-front shock on the No. 12 did not meet the overall specified length outlined in Section of the NASCAR Rule Book. Blaney was demoted to last place in the 36-car field.

After a further review of the inspection process at the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina, competition officials discovered an issue with the damper template used for inspections in the Las Vegas garage. A statement from the sanctioning body said that “NASCAR then conducted a detailed investigation and has restored the No. 12’s stage and race finishing positions from Sunday. NASCAR has taken internal steps to remedy this issue moving forward.”

Blaney was once again credited with sixth-place points, and the eight points he had earned at the two stage breaks were also restored. The reversal moves Blaney from last place among the eight remaining title-eligible drivers to seventh, trimming his deficit relative to the provisional elimination line from 56 to 17 points.

Brad Moran, managing director for the NASCAR Cup Series, said Monday evening in an appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that officials brought back shocks, the damper template and other tools from the race weekend, then reviewed all the weekend reports before discovering the issue. Moran also explained how the template may have slipped out of spec.

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“Obviously a lot of shocks go on throughout a weekend,” Moran told SiriusXM. “They have a set screw underneath it that keeps everything tight, and if they become even the slightest bit loose during a weekend, they actually can basically come loose, shift a little bit. … So it’s not big numbers we’re talking about here, but there was a way that they could actually come loose, and if they were moved, the shock would go on, and was sealed prior to the race and that’s where the problem came about post-race. That same shock did not pass the same template that it was on previously.

“So again … there was a lot of digging in here to come up with what we did, but when we were all done, NASCAR had ownership in it. It was not a team problem, and we’ll own up to that, and that’s why the penalty’s getting rescinded.”

Team Penske responded with a statement later Monday evening, applauding the ruling.

“We are pleased with the decision by NASCAR to rescind the post-race disqualification to the No. 12 car following Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway,” Team Penske’s statement read. “NASCAR has shown a tremendous amount of integrity throughout the process which has led to this conclusion. We are proud of the effort and the results by the No. 12 team during the 2023 season. We look forward to continuing the pursuit of the NASCAR Cup Series Championship.”

Moran added that competition officials were taking measures to prevent a similar issue in the future.

“We’re implementing new procedures,” Moran said. “We’ve got the boards here that are getting re-done. There’s a lot of things taking place that are going to be done by the end of the day (Tuesday). So this will be the last time I talk to you about this situation, I can pretty near guarantee you that.”

Blaney is making his third consecutive appearance in the Round of 8, marking the fifth time in his Cup Series career that he has made such a deep playoff run. The 29-year-old driver is seeking his first appearance in the Championship 4 field, the final four drivers who will vie for the Cup Series title in the Nov. 5 season finale at Phoenix Raceway.