DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Barely a month after Kevin Harvick made waves for a penalty stemming from an issue with his rear window, Chase Elliott hit the news for a similar issue.
NASCAR officials announced on Wednesday that Elliott and the No. 9 Chevrolet team were assessed an L1-level penalty following the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
The penalty comes from a rear window violation found at the NASCAR R&D Center after multiple cars were taken back for wind tunnel testing, including Elliott’s No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.
The specific issue in question was a violation of Section 126.96.36.199 of the NASCAR Rule Book, which deals with rear window support. A brace that supports the rear window of Elliott’s car did not meet the requirements for keeping the rear window glass rigid in all directions.
As a result, crew chief Alan Gustafson has been suspended for the next two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points races and fined $50,000. Elliott was docked 20 driver points and Hendrick Motorsports was docked 20 owner points from the No. 9 entry.
The penalty drops Elliott from 15th in the regular season standings and inside the provisional playoff grid to 18th in points and outside the playoffs through seven races.
The team has the option to appeal to the National Motor Sports Appeals Panel.
Elliott finished 11th in Sunday’s 500-mile race, the second-highest among the four-car Hendrick Motorsports fleet. Kyle Busch won the event for his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory of the season.
In addition to Elliott, other drivers whose cars were taken back to the Aerodyn wind tunnel in Mooresville, N.C., for wind tunnel testing after Sunday’s race were Busch, Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Erik Jones and Joey Logano.
NASCAR senior vice president for competition Scott Miller said Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that rules changes made prior to the start of the season and the inspection changeover to the new Optical Scanning Station (or Hawkeye system) played a role in the timing of the wind tunnel test.
“The reason that this weekend got chosen by [NASCAR] is [that] it’s early in the season, we changed the inspection process and we changed the splitter rules,” said Miller. “Those two things we knew were going to have an effect on the aerodynamic properties of all of the manufacturers’ cars. Now that we’ve raced a few times, we’ve seen what the racing looks like [and] we figured it was time for us to sort of fingerprint the cars.
“We want to just understand as a sport where we are, to get data where we are on downforce levels and evaluate our product.”
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returns to action at Bristol Motor Speedway, April 13-15.