Ryan Blaney didn’t have much to say or be concerned with about the penalty issued to Stewart-Haas Racing earlier this week. But the subject of penalties still had the Team Penske driver upset.
“Honestly, what pissed me off more was our penalty for a crush panel coming loose that had nothing to do with performance,” Blaney said earlier this week. “It honestly probably hurt.”
While SHR and Kevin Harvick have been the focal point of the conversation because Harvick lost his championship eligibility, NASCAR did issue L1-level penalties to the three cars inspected at the NASCAR R&D Center. Among them was the No. 12 of Blaney after he finished second at Texas Motor Speedway.
Penalized under section 188.8.131.52.b, NASCAR wrote in its penalty report: “all filler panels must remain permanently attached for the entire event.”
Blaney offered this on the penalty:
“Jeremy (Bullins, crew chief) called me up that morning and said this was going to come out, and I was very confused. The rule is there; I think is kind of a silly rule. It was an inner crush panel, and just some rivets broke off, and it wasn’t even meaning to break, and I know what it was from. You come up on the track under green flag stops and it’s a really rough transition, it just beats up your stuff.
“And I understand (a penalty) it’s a performance thing, but it doesn’t do a damn thing. That’s what made me upset. What pissed me off even more, Kirk Almquist — our car chief, who has busted his ass all year, been with us 34 weeks — doesn’t get to finish the year out. I didn’t like that for the little thing they found on our car. So, that’s what made more mad, is Kirk can’t finish out the year. That really stinks for him. But can’t change anything.”
Almquist was suspended for the final two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races of the season. Bullins was fined $50,000 and the team was also docked 20 driver and owner points.
While severe, the penalty was not crippling for Team Penske regarding a bigger picture such as the playoffs as Blaney had been previously eliminated. However, NASCAR has been growing increasingly frustrated with infractions and did state following this week’s penalties that there will be continued talks during the winter or stepping up the punishments.