By Toby Christie, NASCAR Editor
Ryan Newman, who has made it into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in each of the past three seasons, will face a huge uphill battle in Richmond — the final race before the 2016 Chase — if he is to advance into the championship battle this year.
Newman finished eighth this past week at Darlington, a track he calls his favorite on the schedule, but in post-race inspection Newman’s No. 31 Chevrolet SS failed in the LIS (Laser Inspection Station).
As a result, NASCAR announced Wednesday that Newman and his team would be handed a P3 level penalty. Most notably this penalty comes with a 15-point deduction for Newman in the driver standings. Before Wednesday’s penalty, Newman had climbed to within seven points of the final Chase position which is currently held by Jamie McMurray.
Newman now stands at 22 points behind McMurray, Meaning essentially that Newman will have to finish 23 spots ahead of McMurray in Saturday night’s race, or he will have to win the Federated Auto Parts 400 out-right to secure a place in this year’s Chase. In addition to the point penalty, Newman’s crew chief Luke Lambert was also fined $25,000 and the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing team was docked 15 points in the owners standings as well.
Newman’s team wasn’t the only one that showed up on the penalty report this week.
Kyle Larson’s team was handed a P2 level penalty, which comes with a 15-point driver and owner point deduction, and crew chief Chad Johnston was fined $22,500. The No. 42 Chevrolet SS, like Newman’s team, failed the LIS in post-race inspection at Darlington.
Larson’s spot in the Chase is of course secure because he won at Michigan a couple of races ago, making this penalty a non-issue for his championship hopes.
Ryan Blaney was the final driver who received a monetary penalty, as he was slapped with a P1 level penalty for a safety equipment infraction. Blaney, who took the Throwback weekend to heart, started the first practice session of the weekend without any gloves on, which is against NASCAR rules. Blaney will have to surrender $1,000 as a result of the penalty.