Chase Elliott finished second at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday to give his No. 24 team a strong start to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, but the momentum from the runner-up result was dampered on Tuesday as the team was hit with an L1 penalty from the sanctioning body for an improper modification to the rear spoiler.
NASCAR noted in their penalty announcement that the team violated Section 20.20 of the rule book (Modification of components to affect the aerodynamic properties of the vehicle).
As a result, Elliott’s finish is ruled as encumbered, crew chief Alan Gustafson was fined $25,000 and suspended for the next race (New Hampshire), and car chief Joshua Kirk was also suspended from the next race. The team also lost 15 driver and owner points, dropping Elliott from sixth to eighth in the standings, where he is now just 18 points above the elimination cut-off.
The modification that resulted in the penalty was due to a piece of tape that a crew member put on the rear spoiler, giving them an estimated extra 40 to 50 counts of downforce on the 1.5 mile track. The tape placed on the rear spoiler was first brought to light by a post on Reddit (r/NASCAR) that can be seen HERE, showing a crew member removing the tape after the race.
Hendrick Motorsports announced that they would not appeal the penalty and Kenny Francis, who serves as the vehicle technical director for HMS, would be Elliott’s interim crew chief this weekend. Kevin Hulstein will take over the car chief role at New Hampshire.