NASCAR Issues L1-Level Penalties to 2-Car Cup Series Team

Getty Erik Jones (left) watches during practice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The NASCAR Cup Series returns to action at Pocono Raceway on July 24. Prior to the race, officials announced L1-Level penalties handed down to both Petty GMS Motorsports entries.

NASCAR announced the news on July 23 with a press release. The sanctioning body said that the No. 42 of Ty Dillon and the No. 43 of Erik Jones were both in violation of Sections 14.6.5.E of the NASCAR Rule Book (rocker box assemblies).

As a result, both teams lost 35 owner points and 35 driver points. Both Dillon and Jones were already in must-win situations, and the penalties further hurt their chances of making the playoffs. Petty GMS Motorsports will not appeal the penalties.

Along with the points penalties, both drivers lost their crew chiefs for the race weekend at Pocono Raceway. According to Petty GMS Motorsports, Joey Cohen will step in and serve as the replacement for Jerame Donley on the No. 42 pit box. Danny Efland will serve as the replacement for Dave Elenz on the No. 43 pit box.

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Pre-Race Inspection Failures Disrupted Multiple Teams

Denny Hamlin

GettyDenny Hamlin’s No. 11 failed inspection twice at Pocono Raceway.

The L1-Level penalties were not the only ones assessed at Pocono Raceway. NASCAR also announced that five entries failed inspection multiple times on July 23 and received minor penalties.

According to a release from the sanctioning body, the No. 11 of Joe Gibbs Racing, the No. 42 of Petty GMS Motorsports, the No. 7 of Spire Motorsports, the No. 77 of Spire Motorsports, and the No. 17 of RFK Racing all failed inspection two times. They each lost the ability to select a pit stall for the M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400. Each team also lost a crew member for the race weekend.

While the five teams all failed inspection, they avoided a larger penalty. They all passed inspection on the third attempt. This means that they will not have to serve a pass-through penalty once the green flag waves on July 24 (3 p.m. ET, USA Network). The five drivers all were able to post qualifying laps at Pocono Raceway.

Avoiding the Pass-Through Was Crucial for Buescher

Chris Buescher

GettyChris Buescher greets fans at Phoenix Raceway.

Losing a crew member and pit stall selection is never ideal, especially near the end of the regular season as winless drivers battle for the elusive spots in the playoff field. For Chris Buescher, passing inspection was crucial as he continues to pursue his first win since the 2016 season.

With the No. 17 RFK Racing Ford Mustang making it through on the third try, Buescher was able to go out and post a qualifying lap during the Group A session. He had the second-fastest time at 53.522 seconds and 168.155 mph. He joined Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr., and Ryan Blaney.

The RFK Racing driver is below the playoff cutline with six races remaining in the regular season, but he has put himself near the front of the pack on multiple occasions. This includes five top-10 finishes and a season-best second-place finish at Sonoma Raceway.

Denny Hamlin, the winner of two races in the 2022 season, achieved similar success after taking part in qualifying. He also reached the final round after posting the fastest lap in Group B and joining Chase Elliott, Bubba Wallace, Kurt Busch, and Daniel Suarez in the final round.

Both Buescher and Hamlin showed speed during the final round of qualifying. The No. 17 completed a lap in 53.279 seconds, which was good enough for fifth in the lineup. The No. 11 completed a lap in 52.944 seconds and captured the Busch Light Pole.

2 Other Teams Made Unapproved Adjustments

William Byron

GettyWilliam Byron prepares for practice at Kansas Speedway.

There were five entries that failed inspection twice, but they were all able to take part in qualifying. Two other drivers, however, will drop to the rear of the field after some unexpected repairs.

William Byron, the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro, spun during practice. He kept the entry out of the wall and avoided major damage. Though Hendrick Motorsports announced that the No. 24 team will have to make repairs to the underside of the stock car. This will count as an unapproved adjustment, which will drop Byron to the rear of the field for the Cup Series race.

The driver of the No. 24 still went out and posted a qualifying lap even with the knowledge that he wouldn’t keep his spot in the lineup. The reason is that he wanted to secure a solid pit stall selection for the race, which could potentially pay off during pit stops.

Similarly, Ross Chastain slid during practice. He posted the fastest time before losing control. He then went out and posted the 11th-fastest time in Group B. This lap time created conversations about the extent of the damage, and Chastain later confirmed to media members that the team would have to make some repairs. This ensured that he would also drop to the rear of the field.

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