Chase Elliott's Crew Chief Suspended for Two NASCAR Races

Alan Gustafson will be sidelined for races at Bristol Motor Speedway and Richmond Raceway after the No. 9 failed post-race inspection at Texas.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Auto Club 400 - Practice
Robert Laberge—Getty Images

NASCAR has suspended Chase Elliott’s crew chief Alan Gustafson for two races and fined him $50,000 because of an issue with a rear window brace discovered in post-race inspection following the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race was held at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth on April 8. As a result of the rules infraction, Elliott and the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports team were docked 20 championship points, dropping Elliott from 15th to 18th in the points standings. Elliott finished 11th in the Texas race.

In its penalty announcement, released Wednesday, NASCAR cited a violation of section 20.4.8.1 of its rulebook.

“A brace that supports the rear window did not meet specifications for keeping rear window glass rigid in all directions,” read NASCAR’s report.

Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team was penalized for a similar rules infraction after Harvick won at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March, his second of three-straight wins. After a rear-window brace broke during that race, crew chief Rodney Childers was fined $50,000, car chief Robert “Cheddar” Smith was suspended for two races, and Harvick was docked 20 championship points and seven playoff points.

Hendrick Motorsports will not appeal its penalty from Texas. The race team has announced via press release that Kenny Francis, Hendrick Motorsports’ Vehicle Technical Director, will fill-in for Gustafson the next two races at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee on April 15 and Richmond Raceway in Virginia on April 2. Francis served as Elliott’s crew chief for five races in 2015 when Elliott ran a partial schedule in NASCAR’s premier series and for one race last year, serving as a fill-in for Gustafson during another suspension.

This week’s penalty is the second of the season for Elliott’s team, seven races into the 2018 season. He was docked 25 points and his car chief Josh Kirk was suspended for two races because of an issue with the suspension on his car in a race at ISM Raceway in Avondale, Ariz., near Phoenix, last month. Elliott finished third in that race.