NASCAR issued fines and warnings to teams and drivers Thursday for infractions during last weekend’s events at Auto Club Speedway. The biggest fine went to Danica Patrick who was fined $20,000 and placed on NASCAR probation through the completion of the next four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Points Races. The fine was a result of her actions after a crash during Sunday’s race.
On lap 120 Sunday, Patrick was running 19th exiting turn four and was running low along the frontstretch when she moved in front of the No. 5 Chevy being driven by Kasey Kahne. The two made contact and Patrick’s Chevy was turned headlong into the wall. The car went airborne before coming to a stop low on the track. Patrick exited her car and walked back towards the track gesturing at Kahne as he passed by.
NASCAR has already prohibited a driver from such actions starting in 2014 after driver Tony Stewart hit a driver during a non-NASCAR race after the driver walked on the track to confront Stewart.
Reigning Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch was fined $10,000 and placed on NASCAR probation for the next four NASCAR Championship Points Races through April 27. Busch’s incident occurred at the end of the NASCAR Xfinity Series race on Saturday at Auto Club Speedway. Busch had dominated the race only to run out fuel then blow a tire on the last lap; still finishing second despite the issues. Busch criticized NASCAR for not calling a caution and also did not fulfill his postrace media obligations.
NASCAR had announced a new behavioral policy just prior to the season-opening Daytona 500, that included fines for “disparaging the sport and/or NASCAR’s leadership.”
Oddly Kevin Harvick, who on Sunday led the most laps only to lose the race in the closing laps, also did not report to the media center after his second place finish. Reports later said NASCAR told the driver he was not needed for post-race interviews.
Besides the fines for Patrick and Busch, NASCAR also issued warnings to six Sprint Cup Series teams for inspection issues at Auto Club.
Warnings, with season totals in parenthesis, were given to the following teams for failing the Laser Inspection Station twice during pre-qualifying inspection: Richard Childress Racing No. 3 with driver Austin Dillon (1); Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 with driver Matt Kenseth (1); Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 with driver Ryan Blaney (1); and Richard Childress Racing No. 27 with driver Paul Menard (1).
The Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 with driver Carl Edwards (2) failed the LIS twice during pre-race inspection. The No. 20 team also received a warning, its second, for failing template inspection twice during pre-qualifying.
The Circle Sport Leavine Family Racing No. 95 with driver Michael McDowell was given a warning for a truck trailing arm that did not meet specifications. The issue was discovered during initial inspection on Friday.
Vehicles failing either pre-qualifying or pre-race inspection twice receive a written warning. A third failure results in the loss of 15 minutes of practice as well.
Any team receiving four warnings forfeits its opportunity for pit stall selection, either at that event if pit selection hasn’t taken place or at the next event if pit stall selection has been completed. Once a team has forfeited its pit selection, its total is reset to zero.
All three of NASCAR’s top touring series are off this week. The Sprint cup series will race next weekend at Martinsville Speedway.