Kenny Francis steps in as crew chief for Elliott after NASCAR suspends Alan Gustafson

(Getty Images for NASCAR

Hendrick Motorsports named Kenny Francis as interim crew chief for the No. 9 NASCAR Cup Series team with driver Chase Elliott for the next two Monster Energy Cup Series races Wednesday. The announcement came shortly after NASCAR officials said they had issued an L1-level penalty for a violation found at the NASCAR R&D Center stemming from Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Officials said the team was found to have violated Sections (dealing with rear window support). A brace that supports the rear window did not meet specifications for keeping rear window glass rigid in all directions.

NASCAR fined crew chief Alan Gustafson $50,000 and suspended him for the next two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship points events. The team was assessed with the loss of 20 owner points and 20 driver points.

The team has the option to appeal to the National Motor Sports Appeals Panel.

Elliott drove the No. 9 Chevrolet to an 11th-place finish in Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500, which was won by Kyle Busch.

Francis, who was Elliott’s crew chief for five points races in 2015 and one in 2017, currently serves as Hendrick Motorsports’ vehicle technical director and has 17 wins, 75 top-five finishes and 149 top-10s as a Cup Series crew chief.

The team said in a statement that the support bracket failure was “unintentional” but did not indicate whether they would appeal the penalty.