FONTANA, Calif – I already wrote about the embarrassment that was formerly known as qualifying for Sunday’s Auto Club 400 (3:30 p.m. ET/FOX/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). It was a bad look for the sport. But, when I took a deeper look at the teams that didn’t make it even to pit road from the technical inspection area in the Auto Club Speedway, a few themes were apparent.
First off, from what I heard, most if not all the teams failed in one common area – the back of the car. That was the area of problem last year. Same so far this year. These mostly involved the rear window area and below.
Secondly, here’s another telling theme, nine of the 13 cars that failed inspection were Chevrolet teams. In fact, four of those nine were all Hendrick Motorsports cars.
It caps a rough week for Hendrick as they not only saw Lowe’s formally announce that they won’t sponsor Jimmie Johnson next year, but Chase Elliott’s third place run in Phoenix was deemed encumbered. I know they don’t use that word anymore but that’s what that was.
Then, on Friday, none of the four cars even made a qualifying attempt because none of the four passed inspection. They’ll start 28th (Alex Bowman), 29th (William Byron), 31st (Chase Elliott) and 33rd (Jimmie Johnson).
You also have AJ Allmendinger, Kasey Kahne, Timmy Hill, Ross Chastain and Cole Whitt not passing tech too.
What’s that tell you?
Chevy has a new car for 2018 and they’re struggling badly. After four races they’ve led just 129 of the 1,111 laps run. They led 20 laps in Daytona, 17 in Atlanta, zero in Vegas and the rest last week. But, last week was a short track and in the race itself, they had one car finish in the top 10.
Now, they show up and have this happen.