By: Ashley McCubbin
Photo By: Matthew T. Thacker | Nigel Kinrade Photography
It was uphill battle for JTG-Daugherty Racing to climb – even before the green flag for the Auto Club 400.
During pre-qualifying inspection on Saturday, both their cars – No. 37 for Ryan Preece and the No. 47 for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – were found in violation of Section 20.20 Assembled Vehicle Overall Rules. The rule states that “parts, systems, devices, omissions or component failures cannot affect what what should otherwise be the normal airflow over the body of the vehicle.”
As a result, they were each assessed a 10-point driver and owner standings penalty, with their respective crew chiefs Trent Owens and Brian Pattie suspended from the event. Additionally, they were forced to start from the tail of the field on Sunday.
Stenhouse Jr. was able to make his way forward to finish 20th, with Preece placing 30th.
It marks the third straight weekend that the specific rule has come into question, following Cup Series infractions last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and a NASCAR Xfinity Series penalized at Daytona International Speedway.
During pre-qualifying inspection for the Pennzoil 400, three cars – Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, and Christopher Bell, were found in violation after having used bondo to manipulate the shape of the bodywork.As a result, they were each assessed a 10-point driver and owner standings penalty, and started the event from the tail of the field.
It marked the second time that particular weekend as there were caught in violation as during pre-event tech inspection, along with Martin Truex Jr. and Erik Jones. As a result, they had to sit out 15 minutes of the first 55-minute practice session.
In the Xfinity Series at Daytona, Timmy Hill and MBM Motorsports were found to have used the substance to manipulate the nose of their racecar. As a result, crew chief Sebastian Laforge has been suspended for six races, with the team being fined $50,000. Additionally, MBM Motorsports received a penalty of 75-points in the owner standings.
The sanctioning body stated that the difference in level of penalties handed out from Daytona to Las Vegas was with the style of bodies used. Since going to the composite bodies for the Xfinity Series, NASCAR has been very specific in the rulebook about not using bondo, whereas in the Cup Series teams were just recently instructed not to.
The specifics on JTG-Daugherty’s attempt at Auto Club Speedway were not released, but many believe it was either a more deliberate attempt than JGR in Vegas, or the sanctioning body is trying to send a message.
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