Kyle Larson’s No. 42 team hit hard with penalties after Kentucky

FONTANA, CA - MARCH 24: Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, drives during qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 24, 2017 in Fontana, California. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Kyle Larson’s hard fought second place finish in last Saturday night’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway is now considered encumbered. NASCAR issued a L1-level penalty to the team Wednesday for a rear brake cooling assembly that didn’t meet standards.

Larson started at the rear of the field Saturday after missing Friday’s qualifying session due to several inspection failures.  Larson fought his way forward, but was penalized for speeding on pit road and sent back to the rear of the field. He again battled forward and finished second.

Wednesday however, NASCAR issued its penalty, and while the second-place finish stands, it will not count towards the end of the season playoffs.

Crew chief Chad Johnston was fined $75,000 and suspended for three Monster Energy Series races, and the team was assessed with the loss of 35 driver points and 35 owner points.

Larson’s Chip Ganassi Racing team issued a statement shortly after the penalty was announced: “We accept the penalty and will move forward.”

Larson left Kentucky with a one-point lead over Martin Truex Jr. in the championship standings.  This penalty puts him in second place, 34 points behind Truex. He is now 66 points ahead of third-place Kyle Busch.

In addition to the No. 42 penalty Wednesday, NASCAR also fined Adam Stevens, crew chief of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team, $10,000 after an unsecured lug nut was found in post-race inspection.

Stevens had just returned to the pit box following a four-race suspension for him and two other crew members after a tire came off Busch’s car last month at Dover International Speedway.

Busch, who won the pole at Kentucky, led 112 laps and finished fifth in the Quaker State 400.

In the XFinify Series, NASCAR fined Thomas Machek, crew chief of the No. 01 driven by Harrison Rhodes for lug nuts not properly installed.

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