On Sunday, Aric Almirola‘s No. 43 Smithfield Foods Ford failed the post-race rear wheel steer laser test after finishing fourth at Talladega. As a result, NASCAR has issued an L1-level penalty against the No. 43 team. Almirola will lose 35 points and the team loses 35 owners points. The point penalty will drop Almirola from 17th to a tie for 20th with Daniel Suarez, 36 points out of the playoffs. The finish has also been “encumbered,” meaning that it cannot be used towards playoff eligibility.
Crew chief Drew Blickensderfer has been suspended for the next four weeks (the next three points races, plus All-Star Weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway). In addition, Blickensderfer has also been fined $65,000.
Former crew chief Philippe Lopez, who serves as Richard Petty Motorsports’ Director of Competition, issued a statement after the announcement.
“We accept NASCAR’s decision and will continue to work to get the most out of our race cars every week while maintaining the NASCAR rulebook,” Lopez wrote. “We look forward to Kansas this weekend.”
In Blickensderfer’s place, RPM has tapped Scott McDougall, the team’s Director of Engineering, to serve as Almirola’s crew chief through Dover. Blickensderfer will be eligible to return at Pocono in June.
The No. 7 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet of Elliott Sadler was found with one loose lug nut after the GEICO 500 on Sunday. As a result, crew chief Ken Davis has been fined $10,000.
Finally, crewmember Reid T. Ferguson has been indefinitely suspended from NASCAR. Ferguson ran afoul of NASCAR’s Substance Abuse Policy. He can be reinstated to NASCAR if he successfully completes NASCAR’s Road to Recovery program.