Chad Knaus on No. 9 Disqualification: ‘It’s unfortunate’

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LEBANON, TENNESSEE - JUNE 20: Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 Valvoline Chevrolet, leads Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Pedigree Toyota, Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #47 Kroger/Nature Valley Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Cup Series Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway on June 20, 2021 in Lebanon, Tennessee. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Chase Elliott looked to be a contender yet again. Sunday at Nashville Superspeedway the Hendrick Motorsports driver seemed to be one of the few in the field who could get close to Kyle Larson.

Elliott would lead 13 laps and won Stage 1. But late in the going he began to fade reporting a vibration. He held on for 13th place while his teammate Larson celebrated another win.

The news got worse for Elliott in post-race inspection. NASCAR found five loose lugnuts on the No. 9 Chevy and disqualified it, leaving Elliott with a 39th place.

“It’s unfortunate,” Chad Knaus VP of Competition for Hendrick Motorsports said. “The lug nuts on the No. 9 were loose at the end of the race.

“At the end of the race Chase had a vibration. There were quite a few tire issues through the course of the day so they were hopeful that it was just a cord or something in the tire that was creating the vibration, so they chose to run the race out. It’s unfortunate that the lug nuts vibrated loose on the left rear and now we are sitting here with a disqualification for the 9 team.”

No word on if the team would, or if they even can, appeal the ruling.

On his regular Monday morning appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller addressed the penalty and said that no further penalties were forthcoming addng that the ruling was clear-cut. The NASCAR Rule Book outlines the penalty structure in Section 12.5.2.7.4 (“Minimum Safety Penalty Options”), stating that discovery of three or more unsecured lug nuts in a post-race check will result in disqualification.

“It was a DQ, and it’s spelled out well in the rule book. There were five lug nuts on the car loose, and that’s a safety infraction,” Miller said. “How that happened is always a debate, but it’s really in the rule book to make sure that all the lug nuts get hit on pit road, because we did a couple of years ago go through a rash of people purposely not hitting all the lug nuts, which was very, very unsafe. So the rule’s in there for that, and they just had too many lug nuts loose at the end of the race. Unfortunate situation for everyone, but very, very clear and very well spelled out.”