Logano, Penske Racing facing penalties after post race infraction

Joey Logano led a race high 178 laps Sunday night. (Getty Images)
Joey Logano led a race high 178 laps Sunday night. (Getty Images)
Joey Logano led a race high 178 laps Sunday night. (Getty Images)

The second place car of driver Joey Logano was found to have a lugnut missing in post race inspection Sunday night at Texas Motor Speedway.

Logano led a race high, and season high, 178 laps in the rain delayed and rain shortened NASCAR Sprint Cup AAA Texas 500. Inspectors found 19 of 20 total lugnuts in a post race check.  Logano heads to this week’s race at Phoenix International Raceway still among those eligible for the Final 4 title contenders at Homestead.

NASCAR began cracking down on missing lugnuts earlier this season after complaints from drivers about possible safety issues. NASCAR had allowed teams to “self-police” having all five lugnuts on during a race. Some teams however tried to skirt the rules, and gain time during pit stops, by putting on fewer than five on each tire.  This dangerous gamble led to several drivers returning to pit road to have tires secured after reporting vibrations. NASCAR then began enforcing the rule, checking the number of lugnuts post race, and crew chiefs were suspended for a race and heavy fines and points losses were issued.

However as this year’s Chase started, NASCAR made adjustments to its penalty system. The announcement came after Jimmie Johnson and Martin Truex Jr. both in the Chase at the time, both failed the Laser Inspection Station during post race inspection.  Under the rules in place at the time, both teams faced serious consequences. But, NASCAR said that cars would have to have “egregious” or infractions that are way out of bounds in order to face sanctions.

The previous P2 and P3 level penalties were eliminated and NASCAR said any car found to be outside the limits would be subject to a P4 penalty.  The limit to warrant a P4 violation however is over double of what constitutes a P2 or p3 violation.  The new harsher penalty however includes an “encumbered finish” meaning a race win would not count towards automatic qualification to the next round of the Chase.

The new rules also specify that a minimum of 17 lug nuts, out of 20, must be present post race.

With only one lugnut missing, it would seem that Logano’s Chase standing will not be in jeopardy. However, any penalties from the Texas race will be determined by NASCAR’s competition department and announced later this week.