Chase Elliott didn’t set the world on fire during The Tales of The Turtle 400 at Chicagoland, but his second place finish was a step in the right direction for a driver chasing his first career championship and hoping to make it to the second round of the playoffs. With that being said, the finish was encumbered after it was discovered that Elliott’s team made an illegal modification to the car to make it go faster.
According to NASCAR.com, “During post-race inspection, the No. 24 Chevrolet was discovered to be in violation of Section 20.20 in the NASCAR Rule Book — modification of components to affect the aerodynamic properties of the vehicle.” NASCAR responded by issuing a Level 1 penalty to Chase Elliott and his team, which carried many severe punishments for the championship hopeful.
The punishment for such an offense was Elliott being docked 15 driver points, which drops him from 6th to 8th in the point standings, and 15 owner points as well. Elliott’s crew chief, Alan Gustafson was fined 25,000 dollars and suspended for one race. Car chief Joshua Kirk was also suspended for one race and Hendrick Motorsports released a statement later in the day saying they would not appeal the penalty.
While the penalty seems like nothing new, especially since NASCAR has come down particularity hard on penalties this season, the situation becomes much more interesting when you examine video of Chase Elliott’s post race interview, where some fans claim you can clearly see a crew member on Elliott’s team rub off a piece of tape from the car before inspection.
This quickly became a conspiracy theory to NASCAR fans on Reddit and even prompted Brad Keselowski to respond by calling NASCAR fans The FBI for their deep diggings into the matter. Even more interesting then the conspiracy itself, its that a supposed source has come forward with information that the tape that was removed by the crew member could have been the reason for the penalty.
According to Yahoo Sports,” A Reddit poster, claiming a connection to the NASCAR garage, theorized that Elliott’s team put tape on the spoiler to help increase rear down force. A spoiler is, of course, an aerodynamic component of the vehicle. Yahoo sports continued their statement by stating that ,”A higher spoiler leads to more grip and can help with corner speeds at a track like Chicago.
Is the tape the reason for the penalty? While its impossible to say whether the video of the post race interview or the Reddit investigation made in impact in NASCAR’s penalty process, it is worth noting that there is nothing new about NASCAR taking top cars for inspection after a race and Elliott’s inspection was probably just procedure more then anything else.
As for whether the tape on the spoiler was what gave Chase Elliott an unfair advantage is anyone’s guess, but it apparently was’t enough of an advantage to be able to run down Martin Truex Jr, who kicked off the playoffs with a dominating with at Chicagoland on Sunday.
What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!