Saturday, December 16, 2017
Sports

NASCAR fails 31 cars for altered roof flaps

DAYTONA BEACH — Thirty-one cars, including 16 in the Sprint Cup series, failed inspection before Thursday's practices for the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

NASCAR confiscated for further inspection the teams' roof flaps, which are designed to keep cars on the ground during spins and wrecks at high speeds.

Penalties could be forthcoming.

The Cup cars involved included all three Joe Gibbs Racing entries (Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth), all three Roush Fenway Racing entries (Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.), all three Michael Waltrip Racing entries (Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr., Michael Waltrip) and both Roger Penske Racing entries (Joey Logano, defending series champion Brad Keselowski). Cars driven by Jamie McMurray, Trevor Bayne, Casey Mears, Marcos Ambrose and Tampa's Aric Almirola also failed inspection.

The roof-flap spacers had been illegally machined down to reduce weight. NASCAR inspectors made those Cup teams install new, unaltered roof flaps before drivers were allowed on the track for the first of two practices. Inspectors then went to the Nationwide series garage and found similar issues on 15 cars.

"When you find something in one garage, you communicate to the other garage," NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said. "We looked into it, and this is what we found."

Nationwide drivers facing possible penalties include Bayne, Brian Vickers, Reed Sorenson and Travis Pastrana.

Johnson rethinks restarts: After two noticeable mistakes during recent restarts late in Cup races, five-time series champ Jimmie Johnson said he plans to "lighten up and loosen up."

"I know the rule," he said. "I feel like I'm maybe a little focused on the way the rule reads exactly."

Johnson was penalized in the FedEx 400 at Dover last month for jumping a restart. Since then he has been critical of the pace of restarts and the interpretation of rules regarding them. He spun in the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky last week shortly after a sluggish restart. Johnson accused leader Matt Kenseth of breaking the pace car speed.

"There are a lot of restarts. … I feel like a good citizen, a good student in doing exactly what I'm supposed to," Johnson said. "There are other times when I don't feel that exactly happens and that it's not called on or viewed from the tower as kind of the rule reads."

Labonte back: Bobby Labonte, who last week was without a Cup ride for the first time since 1989, is back in the No. 47 Toyota this week. Labonte had his streak of 704 consecutive Cup starts end at Kentucky Speedway because JTG Daughtery Racing had decided to use AJ Allmendinger for a handful of races this year in an attempt for the single-car operation to get more feedback on the car and the overall program.

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