Bubba Wallace will be missing his crew chief, Jerry Baxter, on Sunday’s race New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Not only did he lose his crew chief, but also the No. 43 driver lost his starting position. Here’s why NASCAR handed out the suspension.
A NASCAR press release regarding the issue details how Wallace’s team failed a “pre-race inspection.” The team received the penalty for an “improperly mounted ballast.”
The ballast, a lead weight, caused the infraction because it could detach from the race car and potentially cause several safety issues. In 2015, NASCAR increased the penalties for an improperly mounted or unsecured ballast.
The penalty increased after a couple of accidents due to an unsecured ballast. One of those includes when a weight fell off during Ross Chastain’s entry at the Xfinity Series and hit driver Jamie Dick in the helmet.
The new rules state that specific team personnel must serve a mandatory four-race suspension for an unsecured ballast. For example, the loss or separation of ballast weight includes suspensions for the crew chief, car chief, and head engineer.
In addition to Bubba Wallace losing his crew chief, Corey LaJoie’s team received a similar suspension. Both teams had improperly mounted ballasts. NASCAR issued a 10-point penalty in the driver and owner standings to both teams.
Based on the random draw for the race’s lineup, Wallace was set to start in the 15th slot. LaJoie was slated for the 33rd-starting spot.
In the driver point standings, Wallace entered the weekend at 20th while LaJoie was 29th. The points penalty moved Wallace back to 21st overall, putting Chris Buescher ahead in the standings. LaJoie remains in 29th place.
NASCAR also penalized the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Team before Sundays’ race. The team received a penalty for unapproved adjustments.