Injuries, lawsuits and penalties galore heading to Indianapolis this week

INDIANAPOLIS — Hire Hensley Legal Group. Drop The Hammer. Ken Nunn.. You’ve seen the ads. Maybe an episode of Judge Judy or People’s Court could air as the prerace preview shows for this weekend’s NASCAR-INDYCAR doubleheader at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

We have injuries. We have lawsuits. We have penalties. Both NTT INDYCAR Series and the NASCAR Cup Series are dealing with them.

On the injury front, Josef Newgarden’s status for Saturday’s Gallagher Grand Prix (12 p.m. ET, NBC, INDYCAR Radio Network) is dependent on a Thursday evaluation by a team of doctors here in Indianapolis. Newgarden crashed while leading on Lap 235 of the 2nd race of the doubleheader weekend at Iowa last Sunday and after exiting his hauler, he collapsed. He was airlifted as a precaution to an area hospital where he was held overnight for observations. Luckily, he passed all tests and was released to go back to his Tennessee home on Monday morning.

He’s not been cleared to drive until Thursday’s test. If he is sidelined, then Santino Ferrucci will fill in which will all but certain his fight for his 3rd series title will be dashed. You can’t miss a race in this day and age of INDYCAR and still take home a title. Newgarden has won 4 times already this season and still sits 34 points out.

His health has to be his first priority though for obvious reasons.

You also have an AJ Foyt Racing crewman injured during Dalton Kellett’s pit stop last Sunday as well as on the NASCAR side, Kurt Busch also sitting out the race last Sunday in Pocono due to concussion like symptoms that he suffered in a qualifying crash.

Ty Gibbs made his debut in place of Busch.

Now, he’ll be back in the car again this weekend as Busch wasn’t cleared to return to his seat at Indy.

Speaking of Busch, lets keep it in the family here and make note that his younger brother, the only multiple time Cup champion left in the garage area and one that’s won 60 races in NASCAR’s premiere series still doesn’t have a contract for next season. That’s a saga worth watching in itself.

Keeping the flow of contracts, the defending NTT INDYCAR Series champion is currently being taken to court by his current team, Chip Ganassi Racing, while they fight his contract saga. The case was filed on Monday…

Then you have penalties in NASCAR.

LONG POND, PENNSYLVANIA – JULY 24: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&Ms Toyota, Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 Chevrolet, Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, and Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Menards/Duracell Ford, lead the field to start during the NASCAR Cup Series M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 at Pocono Raceway on July 24, 2022 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

There’s been a lot levied lately including some major ones stemming from last weekend at Pocono.

Last Saturday, Petty GMS Racing received a pair of L-1 penalties to both cars. The No. 42 Chevrolet of Ty Dillon and the No. 43 Chevrolet of Erik Jones were both found to be in violation of Sections 14.6.5.E of the NASCAR Rule Book (rocker box assemblies).

As a result, both teams lost 35 owner and 35 driver points and both crew chiefs (Jerame Donley and David Elenz) were ejected. 

A day later, Joe Gibbs Racing had 2 cars disqualified despite a top two finish for each in Sunday’s race. It was revealed in the post race inspection that the fascia on the front end of Denny Hamlin’s race winning No. 11 Toyota was altered. Same with 2nd place finisher Kyle Busch’s No. 18 Toyota. 

It’s the first time since 1960 that NASCAR took away a win as for the 4th straight week now, we’re discussing penalties or the lack thereof. 

JGR decided to not appeal the process and will take what NASCAR levied last Sunday. How do they respond this weekend at Indy on a type of track (road course) that they’ve largely struggled on this season.

On Tuesday? The biggest penalty of all.

NASCAR officials issued an L2-level penalty to the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports team on Tuesday, penalizing the team 100 driver points and 100 owner points following the NASCAR Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway.

The penalty comes under Sections 14.1 C, D and Q as well as Sections 14.5 A and B in the NASCAR Rule Book. Those rules apply to the body and overall vehicle assembly rules surrounding modification of a single source supplied part.

Crew chief Blake Harris has additionally been fined $100,000 and suspended from the next four NASCAR Cup Series championship points events. If driver Michael McDowell and the team win one of the five remaining races in the regular season and/or qualifies for the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, the team will also be docked 10 playoff points.

McDowell was credited with a sixth-place finish at Pocono Raceway following the Sunday disqualifications of Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch, who initially took the checkered flag first and second, respectively, before failing post-race technical inspection. McDowell’s car and the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Chevrolet piloted by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. were randomly selected by the sanctioning body to be taken back to the NASCAR R&D Center for further inspection.

NASCAR officials released a more stringent penalty structure for the 2022 Cup Series season in January, introducing a list of deterrence options on a three-tiered system — from L1 to L3.

Following the March race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the No. 6 RFK Racing team was handed a near-identical L2 penalty for modifications made to the rear fascia of Brad Keselowski’s Ford.

Penalty options for an L2 infraction include:

  • Points deductions: 75-120points
  • Playoff points deductions: 10-25 points
  • Suspension of one or two crew members for 4-6 races
  • Fines: $100,000-$250,000

“To make sure that all of those things stay above board, there’s going to have to be a culture shift from the way that the teams and NASCAR, for that matter, have done business,” NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller said in January when announcing the new penalty structure. “So this deterrence model has more meat in it, more meaningful penalties, but I think we all thought that it was time for this with the introduction of the new car.”

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