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.

HAMPTON, Ga.—  Holding off lapped traffic and a late race charge by Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch was able to win the Rinnai 250 from Atlanta Motor Speedway. This is his 87th career victory in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. This is his second straight win at Atlanta.

“We weren’t great early on, and weren’t great for the middle. Scott Graves and these guys worked on it all day long,” said Busch after the race in victory lane.

Busch started the race from the pole. Busch as able to get a jump on the start of the race because the outside lane was unable to get moving. The caution flew for the first time of the race when Austin Dillon spun collecting Blake Koch coming off of the second turn. On the restart, Busch got the lead on the restart, but lost the lead coming off the backstretch to Brad Keselowski. Busch began to close in on Keselowski in the later laps of the opening stage as many drivers began to hit pit road. Keselowski won the stage, Busch finished second, Kevin Harvick finished third, Denny Hanlin finished fourth, and Daniel Hemric rounded out the top-five at the conclusion of the stage. All the leaders went down pit road to get four fresh Goodyear tires.

The second stage saw the outside lane get a terrible start as Keselowski would set sail with the lead. Busch and Harvick would battle for the second spot, but Busch was able to get the advantage. After pulling away from Harvick, Busch set his eyes on Keselowski. Busch was close to Keselowski but backed out to help conserve his tires for the end of the stage. Busch fell back to third after being passed by Harvick. Harvick went on to win the segment followed by Keselowski, Busch, Kyle Larson, and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top-five. Brendan Gaughan made contact with the wall on the frontstretch.

Busch was quiet during the opening laps of the final stage. Hamlin brought out the caution for a spin in one due to tire failure, something he was battling throughout the final stage. Busch restarted on the outside lane, but couldn’t get the momentum. The caution flew again for fluid on the track. Busch and the leaders went down pit road. Busch was able to grab the race lead off pit road. Busch received a great restart since the outside couldn’t get going. Towards the end of the run, Busch was  entering lapped traffic and almost lost the lead as he almost made contact with Harrison Rhodes. Keselowski came close to battle Busch with the lead, but failed to do so giving Busch the victory.

Keselowski finished second, Larson finished third, Harvick finished fourth, and Elliott Sadler finished n the fifth position.

Next up for the NASCAR Xfinity Series is the Boyd Gaming 300.. Fox Sports 1 and Performance Racing Network will have the call beginning at 4:00 p.m. EST.

HAMPTON, Ga.—  Kyle Busch will start from the pole in today’s Rinnai 250 for the NASCAR Xfinity Series. This is his sixth pole at Atlanta.

The opening round saw Carl Long stopped the clock after a spin and hitting the wall in the second turn. Brendan Gaughan was on a flyer lap, but was slowed coming off of turn four by a slower vehicle.  The red flew again because of a fire underneath the hood of Mike Harmon. Elliott Sadler was able to post a time in this round, but did not post a time in the second round due to a flat tire. Sadler will start 21st. Long, Harmon, and Morgan Shepard will not start the race

Ross Chastain and Dakota Armstrong did not make times in the second round.

At the end of qualifying, Ky. Busch had the fastest speed of 183.862 mph. William Byron qualified second at 183.777 mph, Brad Keselowski qualified third at 183.661 mph, Kyle Larson qualified fourth at 183.327 mph, and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top-five at 183.103 mph.

Busch Rips Goodyear

Sunday, Feb 26

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Kyle Busch had some strong words for Goodyear following his accident on lap 129 that collected 17 cars.

Busch had a tire going down when he went towards the wall going into the third turn. There was no indication that the tire was going down:

“No. I wished I would’ve. If I would’ve, I would’ve tried to wave off as many guys behind me as I could, but it happened just as soon as we started picking up load into turn three. Just spun around and you know it actually felt like I hung onto it for a long ways and then finally it went. I don’t know if it was a left rear that went down or the right that went down but man, tore up three JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) cars in one hit and also Jr. (Dale Earnhardt Jr.),” said Busch.

As Goodyear enters into the final year of their current contract as NASCAR’s Tire Supplier, Busch talked about the frustration caused by the tires.

“You know obviously Goodyear tires just aren’t very good at holding air. It’s very frustrating when we have that down here every single year we’ve been here. Last year we had it as well too. It wrecked us in practice and tore up a car – a few cars actually were in that as well.”

In response, Goodyear was adamant that their tires do hold air. Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s Racing Director, saw that there was evidence of impact on the right rear tire, which they will investigate.

"There's also damage on the left rear, which we feel could have contributed, but again, until you know exactly what it looks like inside [the tire], it's tough to say for sure," Stucker said. "But certainly, both tires were completely intact with regard to components or any obvious issues that we feel could have led to any sort of premature air loss. It was obviously an outside impact or source that created it; we just don't know exactly what yet and which tire."

Goodyear did not see any tire issues throughout Daytona Speedweeks, and believes that Busch reacted in the heat of the moment.

 

he 2016 season for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series was one for the record books. The team kicked of their 25th season with winning the Daytona 500 to winning a second consecutive championship. The team formed a technical alliance with Furniture Row Racing, but that did not stop the success of the organization. Drivers for the organization were Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, and Matt Kenseth.

 

Hamlin kicked off the season at Daytona with a close finish in the Daytona 500 edging out Martin Truex Jr. by .008 seconds. Hamlin’s season was plagued with numerous penalties on pit road. Hamlin was in contention to win numerous races over the season. Hamlin had four DNF’s throughout the season with three resulting from accidents and one engine issue. After winning the season opening race, Hamlin scored victory at Watkins Glen and Richmond, where he started on the pole. With his three wins, Hamlin was able to make the playoffs. Hamlin made it to the third round by the skin of his teeth edging out Austin Dillon by .006 seconds at Talladega. In the third round, Hamlin scored three top-10 finishes, but was able to advance to the final round at Homestead Miami Speedway.

 

Busch picked up in 2016 where he left off after his championship in 2015. His season started out with a third place finish at Daytona. In the following week, Busch won the pole but had to forfeit the pole after his time was disallowed due to failing post-qualifying inspection. Despite losing the pole, Busch captured the pole at Phoenix. Busch captured his first victory of the season and first victory at Martinsville leaving Charlotte and Pocono as the only tracks where he hasn’t won at.  He followed up the victory in Martinsville with a win at Texas Motor Speedway. However, Busch was in an accident at Bristol which resulted in his first DNF on the season. However, the rebound came quickly with second place finishes at Richmond and Talladega, and a victory at Kansas Speedway. However, that comeback was short lived with DNF’s at Dover and Charlotte, a 31st place finish at Pocono, and engine issues at Michigan. Busch stayed consistent over the next seven races with a victory at Indianapolis. Bristol was another DNF for Busch as he suffered a crash. Going into the playoffs, Busch started off strong with a win at Chicago that moved him into the next round. In the second round, Busch had strong finishes at Charlotte and Kansas, but was conservative with Kenseth and Edwards to secure a spot in the “Round of 8”. Busch made his way through that round with three top-five finishes in a move to return to the Championship Round at Homestead-Miami. However, Busch came up short on a back-to-back championship, but left the season with strong momentum going into 2017.

 

For Edwards, 2016 would be his last as a driver in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competition. His 2016 season started strong with two top-five finishes at Daytona and Atlanta. After an 18th place finish at Las Vegas, Edwards scored two poles at Texas and Bristol as well as two wins at Bristol and Richmond. His first DNF of the season came at Talladega. His second DNF came two weeks alter at Dover. Edwards was able to recover after Charlotte with three top-10 finishes and a pole at Sonoma. His third DNF came at Daytona, but came into Kentucky with a  second place finish. After terrible finishes at New Hampshire and Indianapolis, Edwards posted five top-20 finishes including two poles at Watkins Glen and Bristol. Going into the playoffs, Edwards did not have the momentum, but had the consistency. He scored the pole at New Hampshire in the first round, but no wins. He made it into the second round with finishes of 12th and second at Charlotte and Kansas, and went conservative at Talladega to keep his hopes going into the “Round of 8”. With a win at Texas, Edwards clinched his spot into the Championship Four at Homestead-Miami. Edwards was less than 10 laps away for clinching his first championshi, but greed for position ensued from behind leaving Edwards with a wrecked vehicle.

 

Kenseth rode in 2016 very quietly. In the first few races of 2016, he was without his veteran spotter, Chris Osborne, after he suffered injury from an accident in the offseason. Kenseth was about a half a mile away from winning another Daytona 500, but a gutsy move pushed him out of the draft and resulted in a 14th place finish. The season did not start off strong for Kenseth; His first top-10 finish in the first eight races came at Phoenix. His second top-10 came at Richmond. His first DNF came at Talladega after an accident on the backstretch. However, the next four races resulted in a top-10 finish including a win at Dover. His next run of top-10 finishes began at Kentuck with three top-10 finishes including a win at New Hampshire. After Indianapolis, Kenseth only had two top finishes before the playoff began. When the playoffs began, Kenseth became more consistent with his top-10 finishes. In the opening round of the playoffs, Kenseth had three top-10 finishes. In the second round, Kenseth won at Kansas to move to the third round. Kenseth came just short in the third round to move to the Championship Round. Kenseth ended the season at Homestead with a seventh place finish.

 

2017 will be a year of change at Joe Gibbs Racing. With Edwards going into retirement, Daniel Suarez will move on up and have his chance in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Despite not having Edwards, JGR will continue to be the dominate powerhouse in the Cup Series. It will be interesting to see how Hamlin, Busch, and Kenseth will lean on Suarez and vice versa. JGR is the team to watch going into 2017.