NASCAR in Las Vegas: Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch Penalized Ahead of Pennzoil 400, Will Drop to Rear of the Field

Three Toyota teams have received penalties from NASCAR and will be starting Sunday's Pennzoil 400 at a distinct disadvantage. NASCAR officials issued L1-level penalties to Kyle Busch, Christopher Bell, and Denny Hamlin after the noses of their cars did not meet specifications during pre-race inspections. They will now be moved to the back of the 38-driver field.

In addition to being moved to the rear of the competition, the three teams will all receive 10-point deductions. This will affect the drivers' and owners' standings entering Sunday's race.

"Penalties not harsh enough should include lose (sic) of pit selection and crew chief sent home," one Twitter user wrote in response to the news. There were several outspoken critics of the Toyota cars that wanted them to be punished to the nth degree for alleged cheating.

Others, however, were fine with the discipline. They believed that NASCAR simply wanted to let the drivers and their teams know that they were always being watched and that they couldn't get away with anything that would provide an advantage.

Following the cancellation of the qualifying laps due to rain in Las Vegas, Busch was scheduled to start in the pole position, providing him with the top spot in the starting grid. Hamlin was scheduled to start in fourth place while Bell would be 22nd. They will now head to the back of the grid, which will certainly affect the strategy entering Sunday's race.

"I think I knocked the wall down about Lap 11 last time here starting in the middle of the pack," Busch said following the penalties being handed down. "Maybe I'll just start half a lap down and be clean air and run the pack down and catch them and blow by them one at a time, I don't know. I'll strategize that overnight."

According to NASCAR.com, the Toyota Camry stock cars driven by Hamlin, Bell, and Busch were all docked practice time on Friday. They had attempted to change the shape of the front fenders with body filler.

0comments

Sunday's Pennzoil 400 will begin at 3:30 p.m. ET when the green flag is waved. FOX will broadcast the race as Hamlin looks to secure his second consecutive victory.

Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images