The winning Toyota of Martin Truex Jr. and the Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson both failed post-race inspection Sunday following the Sprint Cup Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedy, the opening race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Johnson finished 12th.
The cars both failed two trips through NASCAR’s Laser Inspection Station (LIS) during post race inspection. Penalties for both will likely be announced later in the week. The LIS platform has been used to give a precision measurement of a cars’ chassis since the start of the 2013 season. Prior to that teams were found trying to gain an advantage by “skewing” the body of the car. Violations of the Laser Inspection focuses on the car’s rear toe measurements on each side.
Previous LIS violations have been classified a P2 penalty resulting in either a 10- or 15-point deductions during the regular season. However, last week, NASCAR updated its rules prior to the Chase.
Under the new penalties, teams who win a race in the Chase could be stripped of the advantages of the win that includes automatic advancement to the next round.
Now for teams in the Sprint Cup Series, the first violation could result in an “encumbered” finishing position, the loss of 35-championship driver and owner points, as well as a three-race suspension and $65,000 fine for the crew chief. However, NASCAR officials were quick to say that the violations on the LIS will have to be “significant”, meaning further out than any team has been this season thus far.
Scott Miller, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition said last week that the “encumbered finish” is already a part of the NASCAR rulebook. “This just adds a little bit of definition to how we will use it moving forward,” he said.
Sunday evening NASCAR officials said the violations found after the race at Chicagoland did not meet a violation that could result in an “encumbered finish”. Truex did take over the driver points, so while the win Sunday will still guarantee him advancement to the next round in the Chase, he could still lose points.
Last Wednesday, the Truex team was hit with a P2 penalty after his third place finish at Richmond after the Toyota failed the LIS post race. Crew chief Cole Pearn was fined $15,000, and the team was assessed a loss of 10 championship owner and 10 championship driver points. Those points were deducted prior to the seeding for the Chase. The NASCAR rulebook states that a team must have three P2 penalties in a 6 month period for sanctions to be increased.
The new rules also specify that a minimum of 17 lug nuts, out of 20 (5 each wheel), must be present post race. There was no word of any lug nut violations Sunday night.