It is not often that something before the race outshines the actual race itself. Sometimes it’s an incident that isn’t even racing related that causes things to change, or the focus to shift away from the competition.
This time, the story that was the focus was just wondering if someone would even make the race.
With this new Gen-6 race car, NASCAR has implemented some new inspection policies to make sure the new cars are within NASCAR guidelines. This year, one of the new stations that NASCAR uses is laser measuring, to make sure that components are within required dimensions and alignment. The second stage, like last year, is nicknamed the “claw” or the template stage where officials measure the body to make sure there is nothing out of alignment.
The final stage is the scale, where the car is filled with fuel and weighed to ensure it is of proper weight, both in total and distribution.
Before the race began, 41 cars passed and were on the grid. The only two that didn’t pass were the Penske Fords of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano. In fact, they didn’t make it past the lasers because they were found to have components not within the rules, and had to literally go to work making it right. What ended up being incorrect were the rear-end housings, and NASCAR not only forced both teams to change them, but also confiscated the parts in their entirety to inspect later on.
Keselowski went through the lasers a second time, and passed, hit the claw and scales and made it out to the grid with his team. Logano, on the other hand, wasn’t as lucky.
His car did not pass on the second try, so the team AGAIN had to go to work, and time was running out. Logano was alongside the car the entire time, but the car wasn’t on the grid. The invocation was said, and Sara Evans belted out the National Anthem as the flyover went over the crowd. Logano and team, still in the inspection line, literally at the claw after finally passing the lasers. Officials worked quickly, but efficiently, to make sure the car was within specs to race.
The car was on the scales while other drivers were busy putting on helmets, heat shields, and strapping in.
Finally, the time had come for the most famous words in racing, as the command was given to start the race. Cars fired up, but Logano’s car was being pushed to the grid, with him already sitting in the car. The car made it to the grid, but unfortunately not in time to hold his position in the starting line-up. So while his crew made sure he was secure in the car, the rest of the field began rolling off for pace laps.
Logano was forced to the back of the field because his car wasn’t presented at the grid by the time the command was given. If his car didn’t pass at all by the time the cars rolled out, there was a possibility that only 42 cars would have raced, with Logano sitting out.
Both Logano and Keselowski recovered to finish strong, but at the same time it’s a moot point as the points they earned will likely be erased. NASCAR normally hands down penalties of any kind the Tuesday after the race, and it’s expected to see fines, points losses, and suspensions of crew members. Keselowski also will likely see some more penalties due to his blasting of NASCAR, claiming they have targeted him the last week, mainly since Martinsville where there were some questionable pit penalties.
To say Penske is glad to be out of Texas is putting it mildly, but the stigma will certainly remain.
AUTHOR NOTE: I will have the update on penalties when announced later this week, along with an updated points standings.
RESULTS: 1-Kyle Busch 2-Truex Jr. 3-Edwards 4-Biffle 5-Logano 6-Johnson 7-Almirola 8-Vickers 9-Keselowski 10-Newman
NOTABLE FINISHES: 11-Kahne 13-Harvick 21-Stewart 28-Patrick 29-Earnhardt Jr. 38-Gordon
CAUTIONS: 7 for 36 laps. Lap 39-42 (Debris), 44-48 (#17, 51 accident-BS), 82-85 (Oil on track), 151-155 (Debris), 224-228 (#83 accident-BS), 282-290 (#9, 31 accident-BS), 315-318 (Debris).
LEAD CHANGES: 18 among 7 drivers. Kyle Busch 1-39, Ragan 40, Kyle Busch 41-42, Truex Jr. 43-75, Kyle Busch 76-82, Gilliland 83, Kyle Busch 84-131, Newman 132-134, Kyle busch 135-187, Gordon 188-200, Truex Jr. 201-223, Kyle Busch 224, Truex Jr. 225-279, Gordon 280-281, Logano 282, Truex Jr. 283-288, Kyle Busch 289, Truex Jr. 290-314, Kyle Busch 315-334.
TIME OF RACE: 3 Hrs, 27 Mins, 40 Secs.
AVERAGE SPEED: 144.751 MPH
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 0.508 Seconds
POINTS: 1. Johnson, 269 points; 2. Keselowski, -9; 3. Kyle Busch, -18; 4. Biffle, -30; 5. Edwards, -35; 6. Earnhardt Jr, -35; 7. Kahne, -37; 8. Bowyer, -61; 9. Logano, -62; 10. Menard, -63; 11. Kenseth, -65; 12. Harvick, -77.