Three days removed from the Camping World 500 at Phoenix, massive penalties were handed down to the teams of two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick.

Keselowski and his No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford team finished fifth in the 314-lap race but that finish will now be encumbered as they failed post-race inspection. Along with crew chief Paul Wolfe being suspended for the next three races and fined $65,000, the team also loses 35 driver and owner points. This is known as a L1 penalty. Although he already has a win from Atlanta a few weeks ago, Keselowski took a hit in the points standings, moving from second to fourth.

Harvick’s team was also assessed a L1 penalty for an unimproved track bar mount, which was discovered earlier today at the NASCAR R&D Center in Concord, NC. Crew chief Rodney Childers has been, suspended for the upcoming weekend at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, fined $25,000. The No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford team also lost 10 driver and owner points, which bumped Harvick from seventh in the MENCS standings to ninth.

According to NBC Sports’ NASCAR America, the No. 2 team will evaluate on whether to appeal. The car returned to the shop from the west coast and the area that NASCAR found to be violated is being evaluated as well. While there has been no word from Stewart-Haas Racing on whether the team will appeal or who will sub for Childers, Brian Wilson, former chief engineer on the Keselowski team will be on the pit box in California.

After running into Cole Custer under caution during the NXS race in Phoenix, the DC Solar 200, Austin Dillon will not be penalized. The driver of the No. 2 Rheem Chevrolet was parked after 190 laps.

AJ Allmendinger’s No. 47 Chevrolet crew chief Randall Burnett has sat out of the west coast swing after only 17 of 20 lugnuts were found tight at Atlanta. Burnett was fined $65,000 and suspended for three races. The team’s appeal was upheld earlier today.

Penalty Report: Atlanta

Wednesday, Mar 08

After a weekend in Atlanta, penalties were handed down in all three of NASCAR’s top series.

AJ Allmendinger’s No. 47 Kroger Click List Chevrolet team has received a L1 level penalty for lug nuts not properly installed. At the end of the Folds of Honor Quiktrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, it was discovered that Allmendinger’s machine had only 17 out of 20 required lug nuts intact.

The JTG Daugherty Racing team’s 26th-place finish is encumbered per Section 12.10. No. 47  crew chief Randall Burnett has been fined $65,000 and suspended for the next three Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series events, which includes NASCAR’s ‘West Coast Swing’. The team has also lost 35 driver as well as 35 owner points.

Under Sections 20.17.3.2.1.2, Kyle Busch’s winning Rinnai 250 machine failed post-race inspection. The No. 18 NOS Energy Drink Toyota’s finish is also encumbered per Section 12.10 and was found to have measurements outside of NASCAR’s allowed tolerances.

Crew chief Scott Graves has been fined $10,000 and suspended from the next NASCAR XFINITY Series event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend. Joe Gibbs Racing also loses 10 owner points.

The No. 23 Allegiant Airlines/NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet piloted by Chase Elliott in the Active Pest Control 200 also failed post-race inspection as it was found to have measurements outside of NASCAR’s tolerances. The NCWTS entry also did not have lug nuts properly installed.

Along with an encumbered finish, the team lost 10 truck series owner points. Crew chief Jeff Stankiewicz was fined $5,000 along with an additional $2,500 for the lug nut violation. Stankiewicz has also been suspended from the next NCWTS event at Martinsville Speedway.

When AJ Allmendinger began his career with JTG-Daugherty Racing back in 2013, the driver of the No. 47 Chevrolet only made nine starts. Since 2014, Allmendinger has completed the full 36-race schedule for the race team in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
The 2016 season was a winless one for the California native. But while he didn’t make a trip to Victory Lane, Allmendinger earned two top-five finishes and nine top 10’s as well as 24 top-20 placings throughout the year. He also led a total of 29 laps in five races.
His best finish of the season came during the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway where he finished second to Kyle Busch, who led a dominating 352 laps. Despite the runner-up finish, Allmendinger was still excited after the 500-lap event. “Man, I hope the fans enjoyed that,” he said after the race in a post-race Team Chevy transcript. “I passed Jimmie Johnson (finished ninth) like five times at Martinsville. That is pretty cool. I just can’t thank this team enough.”
With 12 laps to go, Allmendinger made a move. “I had to get aggressive,” he said. “I thought with 12 to go, we might have a new clock in the shop. Came up a little bit short, it’s pretty cool to be racing Kyle Busch for the win here though.”
Allmendinger also performed well at the two road courses on the schedule. After a 14th-place finish at Sonoma Raceway in June in the Toyota/Save Mart 250, he finished fourth at Watkins Glen International in the Cheez-It 355, a race he won in 2014.
During the regular season, he accumulated top-10 finishes in the Auto Club 400 at Fontana in March and GoBowling.com 400 at Kansas in May. Fontana was no walk in the park after he had to start at the rear of the field when his crew found a burnt gear. “It was a good catch by our crew to see the burnt gear,” Allmendinger said after the California race the Team Chevy transcript. “They caught it and saved our day. “It was tough starting back there, but I didn’t realize I had driven through half the field so quick. The car was fast.”
Although he got into the wall at Kansas, Allmendinger still managed to score an eighth-place finish. “We just kept digging. I caught the wall and we had the fender rubbing the tire,” he said in the Team Chevy post-race report. Despite the issue, he was still able to get back on the lead lap. He gave praise to his pit crew. “The guys did a good job,” he said. “We got lucky it kind of cycled back around and got back on the lead lap. Overall, just a hard-fought night to get a top 10 out of it.”
Allmendinger failed to make the Chase but still ran solid during the final half of the grueling Cup season. Other than a crash during the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway which resulted in a 37th-place finish, the No. 47 Chevrolet driver never finished lower than 17th in the other nine races. His return to Kansas in October netted him another top-eight finish. He felt much better about this run. “It felt like the best 1.5-mile race we put together there,” he said in the Team Chevy post-race report. “I felt like we had about a fifth or sixth place car and we finished eighth with it. Just a solid day.”
Allmendinger went on to pick up top-10 finishes in three of the final five races of the season, including another eighth place at Homestead. He ended the year 19th in the driver standings with 830 points.
JTG-Daugherty Racing will become a two-car organization for the 2017 Cup season. Last year’s Pennsylvania 400 (Pocono, August) winner Chris Buescher will join the team using a charter leased from the No. 16 Roush-Fenway Racing Ford recently vacated by Greg Biffle.  While Allmendinger will return to the No. 47 machine and be looking for top finishes and race victories, Buescher will pilot the new No. 37. After making it as far as the ‘Round of 16’ in the Chase a year ago, the 2015 NASCAR XFINITY champion will be looking for improvement and solid runs. He is also scheduled to kick off the new season in the Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona next month.

For the past 11 years, AJ Allmendinger would make his way in the middle of January to Daytona International Speedway for the Rolex 24 with Michael Shank Racing. However, this yearly tradition comes to a halt in 2017 as Allmendinger will not be making the trip to Daytona at the end of this week.

Allmendinger took to the stage at the 2017 NASCAR Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway to explain the decision.

Allmendinger stated that the main reason he would not make the trip to Daytona was because Michael Shank Racing received a deal from Honda. Because Honda is also a manufacturer in IndyCar, they preferred to have their drivers in the race. This was a pretty special deal for Michael Shank Racing because they have been “working kind of by themselves”

“Part of doing the Rolex each year is doing it with Michael Shank for the last 10 years,” said Allmendinger. He admitted that he did not try to find another ride because he “didn’t really look hard for anything else” and that it “would have been strange being there and not running with him.

Allmendinger joked that he would miss racing in the Rolex 24, but would not miss the “knock on the door at four to wake up and get in the race car is pretty tough.”

Despite not being at the track, Allmendinger will watch on TV and be there in spirit.

Early in Happy Hour on Saturday afternoon, Austin Dillon put a speed up of 194.301 mph, a half-tenth of a second quicker than second place. 

Michigan is Dillon's "favorite racetrack." The last time the Cup Series sped around the 2.0-mile oval, the No. 3 car was out front for 19 laps after starting in the back and picking up a fourth-place finish. 

Brad Keselowski, hometown driver, was second on the leader board in the final  session at 194.013 mph. He has never recorded a victory at his home track. 

Jimmie Johnson was third on the board at 193.851 mph. Trevor Bayne led Roush Fenway Racing in fourth at 193.778 mph and Pocono winner, Kurt Busch completed the top five at 193.741 mph. 

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Martin Truex, Jr. Kyle Larson, pole-sitter Joey Logano and AJ Allmendinger rounded out the top 10. 

Ryan Blaney was the fastest rookie on Saturday, while his nemesis, Chase Elliott was 21st on speed, running 47 laps, the most of all drivers. The 20-year-old got into the wall with about 10 minutes remaining, scuffing up the right rear of the car. The No. 24 car got back out on track to complete more laps. 

After posting the fastest time in opening practice Saturday morning, Carl Edwards was mired down in 17th at 192.947 mph. 3All four of the Joe Gibbs Racing cars were outside the top 10 with Denny Hamlin leading the train of drivers in 11th. 

38 cars took time in Happy Hour. Truex led the way on best 10 lap averages at 191.991 mph. He had a pair of third-place finishes last season at Michigan.

The 400-mile race is scheduled to begin shortly after 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday. Last year, Busch was victorious in a rain-shortened event.
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