Kurt Busch Headlines 7 Contenders Facing Penalties at Auto Club Speedway

Kurt Busch

Getty Kurt Busch has received a significant penalty.

The NASCAR sanctioning body has issued some significant penalties to a group of Cup Series drivers. 23XI Racing’s Kurt Busch headlines the list as he will have to serve a pass-through penalty at the start of the Auto Club 400 on February 27 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX).

NASCAR announced the news on February 26 after the Cup Series cars went through inspection. The press release noted that Busch’s No. 45 Toyota failed inspection three times but did not reveal which parts caused the failure. He will be unable to qualify for the race, and he will serve the pass-through penalty to fall one lap down at the start. NASCAR ejected Busch’s car chief, David Bryant.

The No. 23 team of Bubba Wallace also received a penalty after failing inspection two times. NASCAR ejected the engineer of the No. 23 Toyota Camry, Etienne Cliche. He will be unable to be on hand for the second points-paying event of the season. The No. 23 team also lost the right to choose its pit stall.

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Ford Teams Faced Similar Issues at Auto Club Speedway

The two-car operation at 23XI Racing faced significant penalties after both the No. 23 and the No. 45 failed inspection multiple times. However, several Fords also had similar issues late on February 25.

NASCAR stated that the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team of Kevin Harvick, the No. 6 RFK Racing team of Brad Keselowski, the No. 12 Team Penske team of Ryan Blaney, the No. 22 Team Penske team of Joey Logano, and the No. 78 Live Fast Motorsports team of BJ McLeod all failed inspection twice. These teams will not be able to select a pit stall after qualifying.

Harvick’s team will not have car chief Robert Smith after his ejection while Keselowski’s team will be without car chief Nick Case. The ejections continue with Blaney’s team losing car chief Raymond Fox, Logano’s team losing car chief Jerry Kelly, and McLeod’s team losing car chief Tyler Graf. Wallace was the only driver to fail inspection that lost an engineer for the race.


Busch’s Brother Avoided Inspection Issues

While the elder Busch failed inspection three times, his brother avoided issues. Kyle Busch’s No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing passed inspection, so he will have the opportunity to qualify for a spot near the front of the pack.

Avoiding inspection failures is key as Busch pursues multiple significant achievements. If he can turn in another strong performance at Auto Club Speedway, he will have the opportunity to potentially win his fifth race at the track. This would put him only one victory behind Jimmie Johnson on the all-time list.

Additionally, Busch has 17 consecutive seasons with at least one win, tying David Pearson’s run from 1964-1980. This is second all-time behind The King Richard Petty (18 consecutive seasons with a win). Busch has spoken openly many times in the past about wanting to tie Petty’s mark before passing it. Winning for the fifth time at Auto Club Speedway would take him one step closer to this goal.

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