NASCAR hits Stewart’s team, two Nationwide cars with six-point penalties

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet, celebrates on track after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on July 7, 2012 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

NASCAR handed down fines, probation and six-point penalties to three teams Tuesday — including that of defending Sprint Cup series champ Tony Stewart — in the wake of rules violations at Daytona International Speedway.

Stewart’s qualifying time for Saturday’s Coke Zero 400 was disallowed after officials discovered an unapproved open vent hose inside of his Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Chevrolet in a post-qualifying inspection.

Stewart went on to post his third victory of the season, but was docked six championship points Tuesday. A corresponding six-point penalty was also issued to Margaret Haas, the No. 14’s car owner of record.

Steve Addington, Stewart’s crew chief, was fined $25,000 and placed on probation until Aug. 22 for the infraction. NASCAR also placed car chief Jeff Meendering on probation until Aug. 22.

“While we respect and accept NASCAR’s decision, we want to be clear that there was no malicious intent,” said Greg Zipadelli, Stewart-Haas’ competition director. “In a rush to replace a cracked rear windshield that happened during tech inspection prior to qualifying, we jostled a cooling hose that was behind the seat. We understand NASCAR’s position and will abide by its decision.”

The other penalties were issued to two NASCAR Nationwide Series teams — the No. 3 Chevrolet driven by rookie Austin Dillon and the No. 18 Toyota driven most recently by Joey Logano.

Dillon’s team, like Stewart’s, was found in violation of the rule prohibiting unapproved open vent hoses inside the car in post-qualifying inspection. After his qualifying time was thrown out, Dillon started at the rear of the field but finished fourth in Friday’s Subway Jalapeno 250.

Dillon was stripped of six points in the Nationwide standings for the second straight week. He retains second place, but his deficit to series leader Elliott Sadler has grown to eight points.

No. 3 crew chief Danny Stockman and car chief Robert Strmiska were both suspended until July 25 for violating terms of their probation. Stockman was also fined $10,000 after the team’s third infraction of the season. The No. 3 was found with unapproved front bumper covers at Richmond in April and was ruled too low in a post-race inspection at Kentucky Speedway last month after Dillon’s first Nationwide win.

Officials found the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota that Logano drove to fifth place in Friday’s Nationwide event to be too low in the front in a post-race inspection. Gibbs was docked six points in the owner championship standings. NASCAR placed No. 18 crew chief Adam Stevens and car owner Christopher Landis on probation until Aug. 22. The sanctioning body also fined Stevens $10,000.

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