The NASCAR Cup Series drivers are ready to fight for a Crown Jewel at Charlotte Motor Speedway. However, two will enter the race without a member of the team after failing pre-race inspection multiple times.
NASCAR announced on May 28 that the No. 31 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet and the No. 50 The Money Team Racing Chevrolet both failed inspection two times. They each lost pit stall selection for the Coca-Cola 600 on May 29 (6 p.m. ET, FOX). The sanctioning body also ejected No. 31 engineer Alexander Pelican and No. 50 engineer Tim Norman.
The Coca-Cola 600 is only the third Cup Series race of the season that will feature Kaz Grala and the No. 50 TMT Racing Chevrolet Camaro. The part-time team finished the Daytona 500 26th overall after losing a wheel. Grala then finished 25th at Circuit of the Americas.
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Both Drivers Participated in Qualifying
While the two teams were not able to select their pit stalls, they were still able to take part in the evening’s qualifying session. Justin Haley and Kaz Grala both took their laps around the 1.5-mile Concord track and secured spots in the starting lineup.
Haley’s best lap took him 29.929 seconds at 180.427 mph. This run placed him on the 10th row next to RFK Racing’s Chris Buescher, who was slightly faster at 29.914 seconds and 180.517 mph.
Grala, for comparison, struggled with speed during his qualifying session. His lap time was only 31.884 seconds at 169.364 mph. He will start the Crown Jewel race on the 17th row next to Rick Ware Racing’s Cody Ware.
Grala’s car was off the pace, but he did not have extensive time to practice at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He only completed seven laps around the 1.5-mile track due to an unexpected issue. His hood flipped open as he was heading out for a run, which forced him back to his pit stall.
Haley’s Team Already Misses Multiple Crew Members
The failed inspection and the loss of Alexander Pelican is the latest hit for the No. 31 team. Kaulig Racing’s main entry also enters the Coca-Cola 600 weekend without three other key parts of the organization.
Haley’s team lost a wheel during Stage 1 of the Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway on May 15. This incident resulted in an automatic four-race suspension for crew chief Trent Owens, rear-tire changer Jonpatrick Kealey, and jackman Marshall McFadden.
The All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway was the first that the group missed after losing the wheel. The Coca-Cola 600 is the second. They will also miss the inaugural Cup Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway on June 5 and the trip to Sonoma Raceway on June 12.
This is the second time that the No. 31 team has received four-race during the 2022 Cup Series season. The No. 31 Chevrolet lost a wheel during the season-opening Daytona 500. The No. 50 Chevrolet of TMT Racing also lost a wheel during the Crown Jewel race and received four-race suspensions for crew chief Tony Eury Jr., jackman Chris Zima, and rear changer Aaron Powell.