Gloves are off: Joey Logano picks up a fine for glove modifications

HAMPTON, GEORGIA - FEBRUARY 25: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, pits after an on-track incident during the NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 25, 2024 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

NASCAR drivers and teams are always looking for a competitive advantage, but ‘unapproved gloves’ might just be the sport’s strangest penalty.

It was enough to get Joey Logano sent to the back of the field to start the Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta, however, and now NASCAR has followed up with a $10,000 fine for a safety infraction.

As for what actually drew the ire, Logano modified his gloves with webbing between the thumb and index finger. Sections A & B & F of the rule book, dealing with Driver Responsibilities & Driver Protective Clothing/Equipment, specifies that “gloves shall have separate sections for each finger and thumb.”

A screengrab of FOX coverage during qualifying for the Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Logano’s webbed glove is clearly visible.

The advantage comes during qualifying. At the superspeedways where drivers run flat out and rely on their horsepower to get a front-row starting position, some drivers have started to put their hands up to the window net to block airflow. The window net being open to allow drivers to exit the car quickly means that there’s a hole that air rushes into; blocking that hole gives the air a smoother path and reduces drag.

Logano qualified on the front row at Atlanta before NASCAR noticed anything amiss, which they did by noticing his in-car camera. Logano took the glove off hurriedly before getting out of his car after qualifying, presumably to hide the glove from notice.

Logano had also qualified on the pole for the Daytona 500 the previous week. There was no indication that anything was amiss during that qualifying run and NASCAR has not suggested any retrospective penalties, but it’s hard to imagine that this was a one-off with two superspeedways in two weeks.

As for the two penalties, being sent to the rear in the race and a fine the week after, Elton Sawyer, NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition specified that there was a competition penalty based on the advantage in qualifying a safety penalty based on modifying protective equipment.

“The next step of that is when you look at safety equipment,” Sawyer told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio after the race before the penalty was assessed. “And we look at this very hard. We take it very seriously. There’s been numerous meetings over time about safety of the car and the equipment and the drivers. And when you take and alter that, that will be something that we would discuss today, if it needs to have an additional penalty added to that.”

HAMPTON, GEORGIA – FEBRUARY 25: Noah Gragson, driver of the #10 Black Rifle Coffee/Ranger Boats Ford, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 25, 2024 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

Logano wasn’t the only one to leave Atlanta with a big penalty. Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 10 and No. 41 cars of Noah Gragson and Ryan Preece were both docked 35 points for illegal roof air deflectors on the cars. In just his second race with his new team, Noah Gragson is already deep in the hole.

It’s not the first time Stewart-Haas Racing has incurred a big points penalty in the Next-Gen era.

Cole Custer was fined $100,000 and his crew chief was indefinitely suspended for race manipulation at the Charlotte Roval in 2022 when he moved up and braked early into a chicane to allow teammate Chase Briscoe to pass multiple cars and secure a spot in the next round of the Playoff.

More pressingly, Chase Briscoe’s No. 14 team picked up the largest-ever single-car penalty in the sport’s history, of 120 points in the standings, 25 Playoff points, and $250,000 for a counterfeit part at Charlotte last season.

Owen Johnson