Every week, NASCAR writer Joseph Passero presents This Week In NASCAR, which briefs the biggest stories from the last week.
BREAKING NEWS: Clint Bowyer, No. 14 Team receive L1 Penalty after Martinsville Race
On Wednesday, NASCAR handed down penalties following Sunday’s First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Clint Bowyer, driver of the no. 14 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing and his team were given an L1 penalty after officials concluded that the team was in violation of Section 18.104.22.168 of the NASCAR Rulebook, which states that if a team does not an in-car camera for broadcast purposes, they must mount a weight of equal weight to make up the difference. The weight which NASCAR measured was unsatisfactory to specifications.
Because of this, Bowyer’s crew chief Mike Bugarewicz has been fined $25,000 and has been suspended from the next Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, which will be at Texas Motor Speedway. Stewart-Haas Racing had not issued a statement saying whether they would appeal the penalty.
Darrell Wallace, Jr. to Drive No. 43 for Richard Petty
Starting with the Daytona 500, Darrell “Bubba” Wallace, Jr. will drive the no. 43 car for Richard Petty Motorsports full-time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2018. Bubba made four starts earlier this year for Richard Petty Motorsports in the 43 car while Aric Almirola healed from a back injury after a vicious crash at the spring event at Kansas Speedway. Bubba also made 12 Xfinity Series starts this year before sponsorship funding stopped and caused him to lose his ride in the series, in addition to one start in the Camping World Truck Series No announcements have been made as to who will sponsor Bubba.
Noah Gragson Wins First Camping World Truck Series Race
On Saturday, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series took on Martinsville Speedway to start the Round of 6 started for their playoffs. Just a few laps into the race, John Hunter Nemechek found trouble yet again when he lost his brakes going into turn one and he hit the wall hard. He came down pit road but the damage was unfixable, and his day ended before the end of stage one. Matt Crafton went on to win the stage, and Johnny Sauter won stage two, but it was Noah Gragson, who took the lead on a late race restart and stole the show with his first NASCAR win.
Chaos Erupts, Rivalries Born After Martinsville
It’s typical for drivers to be upset with each other after a race at Martinsville, and with a championship on the line, the only driver smiling after the conclusion of Sunday’s First Data 500 was race winner Kyle Busch.
While everyone watched tempers boil over between Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin, they weren’t the only two drivers upset. Ryan Blaney and Kevin Harvick, who raced close to each other most of the night, also had words after the conclusion of the race. While they were not as heated, it was clear that neither driver was happy with the other.
Brad Keselowski was also among playoff drivers who didn’t leave Martinsville happy. On the lap 496 restart, Chase Elliott ran Keselowski out of the groove, sending him far back. Keselowski had choice words over his team radio for the driver of the no. 24 car, but it is not clear if he spoke with Chase Elliott after the race.
Dale Jr. Starts a New Trending Hashtag
On his podcast Tuesday, 14-time most popular driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. took on the hot topic of intentionally wrecking an opponent. He mentioned on his podcast a number of times which he intentionally wrecked other drivers and even a time he intentionally spun his own car out and began tweeting these moments using #IWreckedEm, and other drivers have come forward since with their own confessions.
Hendrick Motorsports Reveals Justice League Paint Schemes for Texas
On Tuesday, Hendrick Motorsports revealed two new paint schemes, one for the no. 5 of Kasey Kahne and another for the no. 88 of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. The two cars will each be co-sponsored by D.C. Comics’ newest movie Justice League. Wonder Woman and the Flash will ride with Great Clips on Kahne’s car, while Batman, Aquaman, and Cyborg adorn Earnhardt’s Nationwide car. The paint schemes are scheduled to be run this upcoming weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, however, Earnhardt pointed out that the paint schemes are both asymmetrical, something which NASCAR does not allow. No word from NASCAR has been said about if they will let these paint schemes run.
UPDATE 11/02/17 – Hendrick Motorsports has revised the paint schemes to meet the satisfaction of NASCAR, so the Justice League cars will run at Texas.
Hendrick Motorsports Announces Full Crew Chief Lineup
On Wednesday, Hendrick Motorsports confirmed their crew chief lineup, as well as announcing the crew chief for William Byron next season. Darian Grubb will serve as crew chief for the no. 24 of William Byron next season, joining Alan Gustafson, Chad Knaus, and Greg Ives, who will serve as crew chiefs on for Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson, and Alex Bowman, respectively.
Driver of the No. 10 for 2018 to Be Announced November 8
Early on Thursday morning, Lionel Racing, the manufacturer and distributor of NASCAR die-cast cars, sent an email to RCCA member about a meet-and-greet with Tony Stewart and the driver of the no. 10 Smithfield Ford for the 2018 season. Stewart-Haas Racing later confirmed the November 8 date to reveal the driver of the 10 car for next season.