By AMANDA VINCENT
NASCAR’s penalty announcement from Wednesday included the one-race suspension of Nick Sandler, crew chief on the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford team of driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the Sprint Cup Series. As a result, Stenhouse will be without his regular crew chief for Sunday’s race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
Sandler’s penalty was the result of an issue with the steering wheel coupling detected by NASCAR officials during pre-qualifying inspection April 22 at Richmond (Va.) International Speedway, prior to the April 24 running of the Toyota Owners 400 at the track. His punishment also included a $20,000 fine and probation through the end of the year.
The rule violated states that the coupling “must meet the SFI 42.1 specification and display a valid SFI 42.1 label on the outside surface.”
Roush Fenway Racing has the option of appealing the penalty. If the team decides to appeal, Sandler’s suspension would be delayed until an appeal is heard, but RFR has yet to announce whether or not it plans to appeal. One of the names bounced around as a possible interim crew chief for Stenhouse at Talladega is that of Mike Kelley, Stenhouse’s former crew chief in both the Sprint Cup and Xfinity series.
NASCAR also issued written warnings to the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet team of Stewart and the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet team of Jimmie Johnson in the Sprint Cup Series for inspection issues at Richmond. The No. 14 team failed laser inspection twice on race day, prior to the race, while the No. 48 team twice failed template inspection.
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