Kyle Larson's 2018 NASCAR Playoff Deficit Grows With Talladega Penalty

The No. 42 CGR team broke a rule while repairing crash damage in Sunday's playoff race, putting Larson further back in the points hunt.

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Kyle Larson’s task of advancing to the third round of the 2018 Cup Series playoffs got tougher after NASCAR’s weekly penalty report was released on Wednesday. According to the report, Larson’s No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing team violated the sanctioning body's damaged vehicle repair policy during the 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Oct. 14, resulting in a loss of crucial playoff points.

Larson and his team had to forfeit 10 driver and car owner points, respectively. The Californian remains 11th of the remaining 12 playoff drivers in the points standings. The bottom four drivers will be eliminated from the playoffs after Sunday’s contest at Kansas Speedway, narrowing the field down to eight drivers. The penalty increases Larson’s deficit to the advancement cutoff from 26 points to 36 points.

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Kyle Larson's playoff hole gets deeper.

Kyle Larson behind the wheel of the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet

According to section 10.9.9.d of the NASCAR rule book, “damaged vehicle repair, regardless of how the damage occurred, is permitted to have original body parts removed or reattached in their original location with fasteners and/or tape only.” Larson’s team, though, used unapproved metal fasteners to repair crash damage after Larson blew a tire and spun during the Talladega race.

Larson finished 11th on Sunday despite the incident.

“We just had a terrible race car and were really slow all weekend,” Larson said after the event. "We were able to salvage a decent finish, but the Fords are so fast here and can rack up a lot of stage points. Even when they have a bad day, they still gain points on us. It is what it is. We’ll just go to Kansas and try and win.”

Crew chief Chad Johnston was also fined $25,000 and car chief David Bryant was suspended from the next race because of the rules infractions.

NASCAR issued a penalty to one other Cup Series team after the Talladega race weekend. John Klausmeier, crew chief on the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing team of race winner Aric Amirola, was fined $10,000 because one of the lug nuts on the car was not properly installed. That violation was discovered during a post-race inspection.

Almirola and Chase Elliott are the only two drivers with playoff round-three berths already clinched, by virtue of wins in the first two races of the second three-race round. Elliott won at Dover International Speedway in Delaware on Oct. 7.

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