Kyle Larson left Kentucky Speedway last Saturday night with a runner-up finish and the points lead in hand, but on Wednesday afternoon, a penalty from NASCAR wiped all of that away as his team was hammered for a Level 1 violation found in post-race inspection at the NASCAR R&D Center.
Larson failed to make a qualifying run for last weekend’s race, causing him to have to start the race from the back of the pack, but he was able to rebound all the way up to second place by the time the checkered flag flew.
However, after the race, NASCAR found issues with the rear brake cooling assembly, as the team’s configuration went against Section 20.4.h and Section 18.104.22.168 of the rule book, which states that “Ductwork or other devices are not allowed to pass from one area of the interior of the vehicle to another or to the outside of the vehicle.”
As a result, crew chief Chad Johnston has been fined $75,000 and suspended for the next three Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at New Hampshire, Indianapolis, and Pocono. Larson’s finish was also ruled as encumbered and the team was docked 35 driver and owner points, dropping Larson from the points lead with a one-point advantage over Martin Truex, Jr. to second place, 34 points in arears.
Shortly after the news dropped, Chip Ganassi Racing tweeted a one sentence statement stating they would not be appealing the penalty.
Statement on penalty assessed by NASCAR to the No. 42 team and Crew Chief Chad Johnston. pic.twitter.com/8UJamNrJOT
— Chip Ganassi Racing (@CGRTeams) July 12, 2017
No mention was made on who would serve as Larson’s interim crew chief for the three races that Johnston is suspended.