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The race-winning No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota for driver Kyle Busch has passed post-race inspection at Auto Club Speedway with no issues.
The No. 18 Toyota was found to be compliant with the 2019 NASCAR Rule Book after Sunday’s Auto Club 400. With the post-race teardown complete, the race results are official and Busch’s 2ooth NASCAR national-series victory stands.
The only issue noted in post-race inspection was one lug nut not safely secured on the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota for driver Denny Hamlin after a post-race check. According to the guidelines in the rule book, the infraction should result in a fine this week for Hamlin’s crew chief, Chris Gabehart.
The post-race process is part of a new, more timely approach to inspection for all three NASCAR national series. Competition officials announced in February that thorough post-race inspections would take place shortly after the checkered flag at the track instead of midweek at the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina.
Those inspections come with a stiffer deterrence structure that includes disqualification for significant rules infractions — “a total culture change,” according to Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer. In the past, race-winning teams found in violation of the rules were penalized with post-race fines, points deductions and/or suspensions, but victories were allowed to stand.
Competition officials introduced the quicker post-race inspection timetable in an effort to make the results official on race day, aiming for a 90-minute target time frame to complete their scrutineering. The new post-race inspection process was also designed to deal with potential violations more promptly, avoiding any midweek news that might cloud the previous week’s results or the build-up to the following week’s event.
NASCAR will still inspect cars and parts at the R&D Center as needed to monitor trends, but the more comprehensive at-track inspection will take priority. Sunday at Auto Club, NASCAR officials noted that two cars would go to the R&D Center this week: the No. 2 Team Penske Ford of third-place Brad Keselowski and the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet of sixth-finishing Kurt Busch.
According to NASCAR statistical archives, the last time a premier series driver was disqualified occurred in 1973, when early retiree Buddy Baker was demoted to last place in the National 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The last time an apparent race winner in NASCAR’s top division was disqualified came on April 17, 1960, when Emanuel Zervakis’ victory at Wilson (N.C.) Speedway was thrown out because of an oversized fuel tank on his No. 85 Chevrolet.