NASCAR Cup: two crew chiefs suspended after Phoenix International Raceway
No. 2 Team Penske Ford of Brad Keselowski (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)
By AMANDA VINCENT
The No. 2 Team Penske Ford team of Brad Keselowski and the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford team of Kevin Harvick in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series have both been assessed penalties that include crew chief suspensions since the cars failed post-race inspections at Phoenix International Raceway after Sunday’s Camping World 500.
The No. 2 failed in the laser inspection stations because of an issue with rear-wheel steer. As a result, crew chief Paul Wolfe was fined $65,000 and suspended from the next three Cup Series points-paying races. Also, Keselowski and the team were docked 35 driver and car owner points.
“We have acknowledged the penalties levied against the No. 2 team following last weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway,” read a statement released by Team Penske. “The race cars returned to the race shop today, and we are in the process of evaluating the area in question.”
Keselowski finished fifth and Phoenix and was second in the points standings after the race. The points deduction drops him to fourth.
Team Penske has named Brian Wilson interim crew chief for the March 26 race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Wolfe also will miss races at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on April 2 and Texas Motor Speedway near Ft. Worth on April 9.
The No. 4 car had an issue with the track bar slider assembly, and issue that was discovered during further inspection at NASCAR’s Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C. Because of the unapproved part, crew chief Rodney Childers was fined $25,000 and suspended from one Cup Series points-paying race. Harvick and the team were docked 10 driver and car owner points.
As a result of the points deduction, Harvick dropped from seventh to eighth in the championship points standings. He finished sixth in the race at PIR. SHR has not yet announced a substitute crew chief for Sunday’s race in Fontana.
NASCAR declined to penalize Austin Dillon after Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Phoenix. Dillon intentionally hit the No. 00 Ford of Cole Custer during a late-race caution after being on the receiving end of contact from Custer that resulted in the caution. NASCAR parked Dillon after the incident, but his car had already sustained significant enough damage that the car likely wouldn’t have returned to the race, anyway.