By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor
After locking himself into the championship race at Homestead, Justin Allgaier and his No. 7 JR Motorsports team got some bad news on Monday that they will likely have to battle for the title without crew chief Jason Burdett.
Allgaier’s car was found to have an unattached brake cooling hose in post-race inspection at Phoenix, leading to a L1 penalty for the team. The rule that was broken (Section 126.96.36.199) reads that “Rear brake cooling assemblies must be sealed from air inlet to exhaust.”
As a result, Burdett was fined $10,000 and suspended from the next race, Homestead. Allgaier’s finish (10th) was also ruled as encumbered and the team was docked 10 driver and owner points, but he had enough of a points cushion that his place in the championship race will not be affected.
Allgaier heads into the championship event with two wins, 10 top-five finishes, 17 top-10 finishes, 495 laps led, and an average finish of 13.1.
The penalty marks the second year in a row in which a JRM crew chief has been suspended prior to the final race of the season. Last year, it was Elliott Sadler’s crew chief, Kevin Meendering, who was suspended from the Homestead race. Sadler went on to finish second in the race and the points with his back up crew chief.
JR Motorsports has the option to appeal the penalty, but decided on Tuesday that they would not appeal. Billy Wilburn was named the replacement crew chief for Allgaier.
“We’re fortunate to be in a position where we have such a strong support staff at JR Motorsports,” said general manager Kelley Earnhardt Miller. “There are a number of talented individuals that could fill this role, but ultimately it makes the most sense to utilize Billy in this capacity. He’s an experienced leader, well-respected, and has a detailed knowledge of this team. We’re lucky to have him and are completely confident in the team’s abilities this weekend.”