NASCAR announced on Wednesday it will suspend Nick Sandler, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s crew chief, for the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday and fined him $20,000 for a technical violation during a pre-race inspection at Richmond International Raceway.
The technicalities of the penalty were not disclosed, but Sandler’s penalty was for a violation involving the steering wheel coupling. NASCAR no longer releases specifics of penalties, but noted Section 20.13.I-1.d of the rule book was breached.
Stenhouse’s team was off to a hot start with two top 10s and a top-five finish at Auto Club Speedway over the first five races. The No. 17 Roush Fenway team has slipped since, with no top-15 results in the last four events.
Losing Sandler for the weekend will only further the struggles for RFR with Stenhouse’s team having to completely regroup at Talladega. Luckily, the team has Trevor Bayne, who has a win and three top-10 finishes at superspeedways over his career.
Along with Stenhouse, a couple of NASCAR’s biggest names were also assessed penalties. Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 Hendrick crew received a written warning for failing pre-race template inspection twice. The No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team of Tony Stewart received a written warning for twice failing the laser inspection in pre-race.