NASCAR has penalized one of its team owners. Chip Ganassi, owner of Chip Ganassi Racing, violated COVID-19 rules during the race weekend at Daytona International Speedway, which fans could watch on fuboTV with a free trial. He will have to pay a fine and miss Sunday's Dixie Vodka 400 while serving a one-race suspension.
According to a release from racing's governing body, Ganassi's penalty was "for bringing into the competition area a non-essential individual that was restricted from the footprint." This move violated Section 12.8.1.b of the NASCAR Rule Book. Ganassi will have to pay a $30,000 fine. He is also barred from attending Sunday's race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, pending an appeal.
One important note is that the suspension only affects Ganassi. His two cars can still compete in the Dixie Vodka 400. The team currently employs Kurt Busch, who drives the No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro, and Ross Chastain, the new driver of the No. 42 Chevrolet Camaro. Both men competed in the O'Reilly Auto Parts 253 on Sunday. Busch finished fourth while Chastain did not finish.
Following two races, Busch is currently eighth in the standings with 65 points. He is currently on pace to finish above the cutoff line and reach the postseason once again. Though he will have to either win a race or keep performing at a high level. Chastain sits below the cutoff line in the 20th position with only 33 points.
NASCAR also announced that two crew chiefs had received fines following the conclusion of Sunday's race. Adam Stevens, crew chief of the race-winning No. 20 Toyota Camry driven by Christopher Bell, received a fine of $10,000 for an unsecured lug nut. Brad Keselowski's crew chief, Jeremy Bullins, received the same fine for an unsecured lug nut on the No. 5 Ford Mustang.
When NASCAR returned from a 10-week hiatus in May 2020, it did so with several strict protocols in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The list included mandated masks and screenings prior to entering the track, as well as smaller crews present for races. One change for the 2021 season paved the way for team owners to attend races on the schedule, either in the infield or in a luxury suite.
"We continue to try to put as many tools as possible in the protocol toolbox," said John Bobo, NASCAR's vice president of racing operations, prior to the Daytona 500. "Toward the end of last year, we started doing a lot of rapid antigen testing as part of secondary screenings for people coming into the track and that will continue. We continue to emphasize with the drivers that we need rapid reporting of COVID-19 results so we can contract trace as well. We will continue to do the things we know will work."