The number of crew chiefs suspended from this weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway has now grown to three as Drew Blickensderfer, crew chief for Aric Almirola, was penalized for post-race inspection issues after last Sunday’s race at Talladega.
After Almirola finished fourth in the GEICO 500, NASCAR announced that the No. 43 team had failed the post-race rear wheel steer on the Laser Inspection Station, which is the same issue that Brad Keselowski’s team encountered after their top-five finish at Phoenix.
As a result, Richard Petty Motorsports was handed the same penalty that Team Penske got after Phoenix. Blickensderfer was fined $65,000 and suspended from the next three points races, meaning he will be absent from Kansas, the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, and Dover. The team was also penalized 35 driver points and 35 owner points. Almirola’s fourth place finish was also ruled as being encumbered.
Blickensderfer joins Keselowski’s crew chief Paul Wolfe and Joey Logano’s crew chief Todd Gordon as being suspended from the race at Kansas.
While Team Penske appealed their penalty as far as they could, Richard Petty Motorsports announced in a statement that the team would not appeal.
“We accept NASCAR’s decision and will continue to work to get the most out of our race cars every week while maintaining the NASCAR rulebook,” said Philippe Lopez, Director of Competition for Richard Petty Motorsports. “We look forward to Kansas this weekend.”
With the penalty, Almirola now falls from 17th in points to 21st in points, where he is tied with Daniel Suarez.
Scott McDougall, the team’s director of engineering, will serve as interim crew chief for Almirola while Blickensderfer is serving his suspension.