Kyle Larson’s already tenuous championship hopes took a significant hit on Wednesday afternoon.
Despite a difficult weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, Larson and the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing team salvaged an 11th-place finish on Sunday in the 1000Bulbs.com 500. It kept him within 26 points of the final transfer spot into the next round of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, but the jubilation was short-lived.
A penalty announced on Wednesday made that effort null and void.
The No. 42 team violated Section 10.9.9.d in the rulebook, which notes “Damaged vehicle repair, regardless of how the damage occurred, is permitted to have original body parts removed or reattached in their original location with fasteners and/or tape only.”
Larson spun on the backstretch on lap 105, forcing his team to make repairs. Those repairs did not meet NASCAR’s approval.
The penalty comes with a 10-point reduction and a $25,000 fine for crew chief Chad Johnston. Car chief David Bryant was also suspended for one race.
More notably, he falls from 26 points behind the playoff cutoff to 36, effectively putting him in a must-win scenario to advance on Sunday in the elimination race at Kansas Speedway.
Larson has gone winless this season, one year after winning four times in his breakout season in the Cup Series. The lack of victories has disadvantaged him in the playoffs too, as the No. 42 team had very few playoff points to fall back on.
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