NASCAR announced penalties Wednesday (Feb. 23) from Daytona Speedweeks, but not included in its bulletin were any penalties regarding the wheels its confiscated from Team Penske and RFK Racing last Friday (Feb. 18).
The only penalties were the suspension of crew members on Kaulig Racing’s No. 31 and Money Team Racing’s No. 50 over wheels that fell off their cars during Sunday’s Daytona 500.
For Kaulig, crew chief Trent Owens and crew members Jacob Nelson and Marshall McFadden were suspended for the next four Cup Series events. For Money Team Racing, the four-race suspensions went to crew chief Tony Eury Jr. and crew members Chris Zima and Aaron Powell.
Driver Kaz Grala said last week the team had already acquired sponsorship for the March 27 race at the Circuit of the Americas.
While NASCAR didn’t make a direct reference to either Team Penske or RFK Racing in its penalty announcement, it release the following statement:
“NASCAR met with Next Gen suppliers and several race teams this week to discuss wheel specifications. Following that discussion, NASCAR made small adjustments to increase the upper tolerance on pin and pilot bores for Fontana. NASCAR will reevaluate with suppliers and race teams and determine a path forward following this weekend’s race.”
It’s vindication for both of the Ford teams.
RFK Racing co-owner / driver Brad Keselowski, when asked on Friday about the wheel confiscation, said the modifications were not related to performance, but safety.
Brad Keselowski on NASCAR confiscating RFK and Penske wheels. “Not a performance-related item. … We made some safety changes to the wheels. Once NASCAR sees all the data behind it, I think we’ll be fine.” pic.twitter.com/9Awekzauai
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) February 18, 2022
In the wake of Austin Cindric’s Daytona 500 win, Roger Penske noted his team had been in touch with NASCAR about an issue with the wheels before moving forward with its modifications.
“The wheels we were getting were not all the same, and we felt we needed to modify the holes where the drive pins go,” Penske said. “We didn’t really get any feedback (from NASCAR), and at that point we went ahead and opened the holes up. … I just think there was so much going on and trying to get the communication back and forth — we certainly talked about it with them. This wasn’t something we did under the covers trying to beat anybody. It was right there.”
Jeremy Bullins, crew chief on Cindric’s car, said his team removed a set of wheels from their rotation for the 500 over concerns they wouldn’t fit on the car.
“We have had some instances where there’s a lot of really tight tolerances on a lot of the parts on this new car, and if you look at the back of the wheel, there’s a lot of lug holes there that line up on the drive pins on the hubs,” Bullins said. “It’s all new stuff, and it’s all very nice machined stuff, but when you stack up those kind of tolerances, we have seen some interference issues. That’s what we’ve all been hedging against, if you will, through some of the things we’ve done.”
About the author
Daniel McFadin is a 7-year veteran of the NASCAR media corp. He wrote for NBC Sports from 2015 to October 2020. He's currently a freelancer and lead reporter and editor for Frontstretch. He is also host of the NASCAR show "Dropping the Hammer with Daniel McFadin" on YouTube and in podcast form.
You can email him at email@example.com.
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