It’s Game 7 of the an early round playoff matchup. Do-or-die time. If you don’t win, you’ll be eliminated from playoff contention. That’s the very scenario that Kyle Larson is now facing for Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 (2 p.m. ET/NBC/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
NASCAR’s weekly penalty report was released on Wednesday and the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing team in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series received an L1-level penalty for an infraction found following Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway, according to the NASCAR penalty report.
The team was in violation of Section 10.9.9.d of the NASCAR Rule Book, which covers the Damaged Vehicle Policy and mechanical repair. That rule states that regardless of how damage to a car occurs, the team only is permitted to reattach original body parts of the car to their original locations with fasteners and/or tape only. The No. 42 team reattached parts via metal tabs following an on-track incident.
As a result, team driver Kyle Larson will lose 10 driver points, and owner Chip Ganassi will lose 10 owner points. Crew chief Chad Johnston is fined $25,000, and car chief David Bryant is suspended from the next Monster Energy Series event this weekend at Kansas Speedway.
The L1 penalty is a blow to Larson’s playoff chances. Entering the Round of 12 finale at Kansas Speedway, Larson now is 36 points behind the cutoff line to advance once Wednesday’s 10-point penalty is deducted.
That’s a lot of points to make up in one race. So, Larson now has his sights set on earning his first victory in Sunday’s Round of 12 cutoff race.
Larson, has struggled in this year’s playoffs. While he finished runner-up in Las Vegas, he has yet to sniff the top five since. He struggled in a seventh place run in Richmond and while he was second on a late race restart at Charlotte, he crashed. He would limp home 25th.
This round, he’s been dismal. He’s scored as many stage points as you and I and has finishes of 12th and 11th respectively. He needs to win on Sunday.
That may not be as tall as a task of one would think though. He has two runner-up finishes in his last three starts on 1.5-mile tracks this season and seven top 10’s in eight tries. One of which was a fourth place run at Kansas back in May. That was his second top six finishes in his last three Kansas starts. The problem is, both top sixes came in the spring race. His fall race finishes at Kansas are second, 29th, 30th and 39th respectively.
Not good odds for him.
Throw in this penalty and it could be a costly blow.