RACING

NASCAR Cup teams still stunned by Pocono disqualifications

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By Bob Pockras
FOX Sports Writer NASCAR

INDIANAPOLIS – Joe Gibbs Racing has decided to have a little show-and-tell in the NASCAR Cup Series garage six days after having a winning car and a runner-up car postrace disqualified in Pocono.

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Right next to the Denny Hamlin transporter was a nose piece with vinyl tape (commonly known as helicopter tape) strategically placed in the corners where it would attach to the divider.

It was the play that cost Hamlin the win at Pocono, according to JGR. NASCAR wouldn’t go looking to check and probably wasn’t too happy about JGR flaunting its illegal nose for everyone to see.

JGR’s show-and-tell

JGR's show-and-tell

Sitting outside a Joe Gibbs Racing transporter in Indianapolis, this exhibit is apparently from Pocono’s 11 car.

JGR’s motivation could come from several areas:

  • He wanted to show how little the nose of the car had been done, trying to make it clear that although it was illegal, it was not an offense worthy of a disqualification.
  • He wanted to show other teams what JGR has done so they don’t make the same mistake.
  • He wanted to show that he was transparent about how he was breaking the rules.

There is no doubt that having these pieces of tape contributed to the drag or downforce in the car – that they were placed on the car to help with handling. But even opposing team managers indicated that was probably not the main difference why Hamlin and Kyle Busch finished 1-2 before their disqualifications.

So where does NASCAR go from here? NASCAR competition officials declined to comment during the Indianapolis Motor Speedway weekend to discuss penalties and philosophy.

NASCAR officials don’t need to talk to get the message across that they are prepared to go as far as necessary to enforce what they believe are rule violations.

“We’ve certainly seen a lot worse come out of it,” said Hamlin crew chief Chris Gabehart. “I wasn’t expecting a DQ. … For something this small to reach this level, there’s no way everyone in the garage isn’t terrified.”

Gabehart swears he didn’t even know JGR put this tape on the cars, which seems hard to believe.

“I am embarrassed to say this, but it is indeed the case, neither me nor any of my counterparts [as crew chiefs]knew it was on the car,” he said. “It’s a sport that takes thousands of hours of work a week from hundreds of people to get a car on the track any time. sunday.

“And if I limit ourselves to the point where I need to know everything about every nut and every bolt, [our] Team 11 will no longer be the winningest team of the past three and a half years.”

With the new Next Gen car, NASCAR said it will be diligent in enforcing the rules because parts and parts are sourced from single suppliers and cannot be modified.

How will Chase Elliott get Denny Hamlin’s trophy?

Disqualifications at Pocono made Chase Elliott the winner. But it doesn’t seem like Elliott is interested in asking Denny Hamlin for the trophy.

It resulted in the Cup winner’s first disqualification in 62 years as well as 100-point penalties (plus 10 playoff points) to Brad Keselowski earlier this year and Michael McDowell last week.

“It’s overkill for what it was,” Busch said. “But I understand the process of this car and making sure the example is there, and they’ve done the same with Brad’s team and [McDowell’s] crew.”

Hamlin, who also owns two Cup cars, gave a “it is what it is” type response. He said he wasn’t mad at the violations and that JGR shouldn’t have done it if he broke the rules. He just knows it wasn’t a big deal when it came to determining the order of finish.

“I thought we had one of those big Richard Petty motors in the car or something, but not this time,” Hamlin said. “It was a piece of duct tape, but they’re pretty [insistent] that’s how they want it to start with this new car.

“I just hope it’s consistent for everyone, no matter who wins a race.”

Hamlin said he understood the JGR violation was about something added to a stock part, and the Keselowski and McDowell penalties were about modifying a stock part, which meant more points and suspensions (they could not be disqualified because their violations were found a few days later at the NASCAR technical center).

Other teams have certainly noticed this, although drivers said they didn’t go into detail about what their teams were doing to push back the gray areas of the regulations in hopes of showing leniency in the technical bay or NASCAR admitting that he had not violated the rules. – then create a new rule to make sure it will be in the future.

Owners certainly don’t want to be penalized. And they will not throw stones.

“I was just glad it wasn’t us,” said car owner Roger Penske, who also owns the IndyCar Series. “We have to have a level playing field that we all race on. It’s the same for all teams and all drivers.

“I guess I take my hat off to NASCAR, but they have to make sure it’s on an organization-wide and industry-wide level. But we’re happy not to be involved in something like that. We had our time, too. So we have to sit in the back row on this one.”

Roger Penske on JGR disqualifications

Roger Penske on JGR disqualifications

Roger Penske reacts to Joe Gibbs Racing’s disqualifications at Pocono.

JGR said it would change the procedures to try to avoid any issues in the future. The fact that the team did not appeal the sanction shows that they recognize that they were wrong.

But that doesn’t mean JGR engineers won’t spend so many hours sifting through wind tunnel data and running simulations to try and improve.

“It’s all the details that collectively make you better than everyone else,” Gabehart said. “So if you asked me, did any detail make a difference? The answer is ‘No’.

“But it’s what that detail represents that absolutely makes the difference between winning and losing.”

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Thinking out loud

When NASCAR gave Ross Chastain a 30-second penalty at the end of the race, it was the obvious decision.

The rule may be obscure, but there is no way a driver is allowed to cut the course and advance their position.

Penalizing Ross Chastain was the right choice

Penalizing Ross Chastain was the right choice

Quick thoughts: Bob Pockrass says it was an obvious call for NASCAR to penalize Ross Chastain for missing turn one.

Chastain was running fourth on the final restart and after using an access road to avoid Turn 1, came out second, side by side with Tyler Reddick.

You cannot pass two drivers by cutting the course. That does not make any sense. NASCAR imposed a 30-second penalty.

NASCAR rules for the race were that if you missed turn 1 it would be a stop and go penalty. But that’s a matter of judgment as riders can be pushed off the pace of the race.

While Chastain can argue he was kicked out (he said he was never going to make the turn), he has certainly improved his position, and there’s no way NASCAR can let that happen.

NASCAR would probably be better off having a specific rule for turn 1 next year.

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Statistics of the day

Tyler Reddick is the only repeat offender in the last six road races. The previous five races have been won by Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, Ross Chastain, Daniel Suárez and Reddick.

They said it

“Whatever people do at the end of these things – just dive in there and destroy you. I don’t know who pushed who, and I don’t care.” ryan blaney on the IMS finish

Bob Pockrass has spent decades covering motorsports, including the last 30 Daytona 500s. He joined FOX Sports in 2019 after stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @bobpockrass. Looking for more NASCAR content? Sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR newsletter with Bob Pockrass!


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