NASCAR announced on June 4 that the No. 38 Ford and the No. 43 Chevrolet were both heading back to the R&D Center. Three days later, the sanctioning body issued an L1-Level penalty to Legacy Motor Club.
According to the weekly penalty report, the teardown inspection revealed that the No. 43 Chevrolet Camaro of Erik Jones had a modified greenhouse. This was a violation of the NASCAR Rule Book, specifically Sections 14.1. Overall Assembled Vehicle Rules and 14.1.2.B Engineering Change Log.
As a result, crew chief Dave Elenz received a two-race suspension and a $75,000 fine. The team also lost 60 driver points, 60 owner points, and five playoff points for the team and driver.
The greenhouse covers everything from the doors up on the Cup Series cars. According to NASCAR, violations in this area would be made in an attempt to gain an aerodynamic edge.
This is the third L1-Level penalty issued in 2023 for these greenhouse modifications. The first two went to the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet after Richmond Raceway.
Legacy Motor Club Issued a Statement After the Penalty
With NASCAR issuing the L1-Level penalty to Legacy Motor Club, there are two paths forward. The organization can accept the penalty and just move forward with the season. It can also make an appeal.
“We have been diligently working with NASCAR regarding the penalty and are working internally to determine the course of action in response,” said Joey Cohen, VP of Legacy Motor Club’s Race Operations. “We will announce that decision within the timeframe determined by the NASCAR Rule Book.”
While Legacy Motor Club has not yet announced whether it will appeal the penalty, the organization has confirmed that it will move forward with an interim crew chief at Sonoma Raceway and Nashville Superspeedway.
Cohen will take over the pit box for the No. 43 team while Elenz takes his mandatory vacation. Cohen has 64 races as a crew chief, split between the Craftsman Truck Series and the Xfinity Series. He celebrated one Truck Series win with Ben Kennedy in 2016 and one Truck Series win with Chase Elliott in 2017.
Jones Dropped Out of Playoff Contention
The driver of the No. 43 entered the 2023 Cup Series season with optimism. He was fresh off a season in which he won the Southern 500 and added a Crown Jewel to his collection. He also had another year with Dave Elenz as his crew chief.
The first 15 races had some struggles. Jones crashed in two of the first three races, and he only secured two top-10 finishes in the first 15. The result is that he sat 25th in the standings with an average finish of 21.4.
Jones now sits 30th in the standings after the L1-Level penalty. He is 128 points behind Trackhouse Racing’s Daniel Suarez, who sits in the final playoff spot. Jones is also 10 points ahead of Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe, who lost 120 driver points after an L3-Level Penalty.
Overcoming this penalty will not be a simple matter for Jones. He will have to win a race in the remaining 11 weeks of the regular season.
Atlanta Motor Speedway and Daytona International Speedway will likely be the best opportunities based on the chaos that can unfold and the situations that can lead to unexpected winners. Jones also finished fourth in the 2022 Quaker State 400 Available at Walmart at Atlanta Motor Speedway.