NASCAR issued its third penalty in two weeks for a rear window that failed to remain rigid for the entire race as it slapped Kyle Larson with a 20-point penalty and suspended his car chief for two races.
Larson finished fourth at Kansas Speedway, but it was obvious the upper portion of the rear window had caved in. He said afterward he believed it was from contact with Ryan Blaney that had sent his Chip Ganassi Racing car into the wall late into the event Saturday night.
The team will not appeal the penalty, which included Larson losing the one playoff point he earned for winning a stage during the race (playoff points are points that drivers earn during the season that are carried throughout the playoffs) and a $50,000 fine to crew chief Chad Johnston.
“Although all parties agree that the infraction was unintentional and the result of contact, we will not appeal the penalty so that we can focus our energy on [future races],” the team said in a statement.
Car chief David Bryant can work this weekend because the NASCAR All-Star Race is a non-points event. He will miss the May 27 points race at Charlotte and the following week at Pocono.
With the penalty, Larson falls from 10th to 11th in the standings but still maintains a 71-point cushion on the current playoff cutoff. Larson is looking for his first win this year.
Larson has plenty of company in the NASCAR doghouse for a rear window violation.
NASCAR issued the same penalty to the teams of Stewart-Haas Racing’s Clint Bowyer and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Daniel Suarez following the May 6 race at Dover. Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott (Texas) and SHR’s Kevin Harvick (Las Vegas) also have received rear window penalties this year.
Teams appear to be using lightweight braces and brackets in that area in order to put as much weight as possible lower on the car to create downforce. A buckled rear window also can impact the way the air flows around the car.
The buckling of the rear window has often been obvious on television during races, and before the races end screenshots flood social media. NASCAR waits until Tuesday or Wednesday, though, to issue any penalties as it prefers to examine the parts and pieces of the cars involved before making a final decision on sanctions.
NASCAR also announced Tuesday that it will increase penalties for any future rear window violations.
The violation is considered a Level 1 penalty, and a NASCAR spokesman said it would begin issuing penalties for similar infractions at the maximum of the L1 penalty scale, which would mean penalizing the driver and team 40 points, suspending crew member(s) three weeks and fining the crew chief $75,000. The L1 scale is 10-40 points, one to three weeks of suspensions and $25,000-$75,000 in fines.