Before Sunday's race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, NASCAR handed punishments to the No. 43 and No. 32 teams. Both Bubba Wallace and Corey LaJoie had to race without their crew chiefs and lost their starting positions. Here's why the two teams faced penalties from racing's governing body.
According to a NASCAR press release, both teams failed pre-race insections due to improperly mounted ballasts. This lead weight could become detached from the race car, causing the potential loss of a wheel and numerous safety issues. As a result, both drivers lost their starting spots and fell to the rear of the field. Wallace previously had the 15th spot overall while LaJoie had the 33rd. As part of the suspension, Wallace entered Sunday's race without crew chief Jerry Baxter while LaJoie raced without crew chief Ryan Sparks.
NASCAR increased the penalties for improperly mounted or unsecured ballast in 2015. There were concerns about safety issues after two incidents involving unsecured ballast. This list included an event in the Xfinity Series when a weight fell off Ross Chastain's entry and struck fellow driver Jamie Dick in the helmet.
As part of the new rules, a penalty for unsecured ballast due to improper installation brings a mandatory four-race suspension for specific team personnel. For example, the loss of a wheel or wheel due to improper installation would result in a minimum four-race suspension for the crew chief, tire changer and tire carrier of the lost wheel or wheels. For the loss or separation of ballast weight, on the other hand, the suspensions would include the crew chief, car chief and head engineer.
Another aspect of the penalties that plays a role in the remaining regular-season schedule is that both teams lost 10 driver and owner points. This loss dropped Wallace from 20th to 21st overall and moved Chris Buescher ahead in the standings. LaJoie remained in 29th overall after the points penalty.
The No. 43 and No. 32 teams were not the only ones to face penalties prior to the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301. NASCAR also penalized the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing team due to unapproved adjustments. Austin Dillon also dropped from 23rd overall to the rear of the field.
Following the penalties, Dillon finished Sunday's race in 13th place. Wallace ended his day in 23rd while LaJoie finished 35th. John Hunter Nemechek, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch rounded out the field after all three left the race early due to crashes.