JOLIET, Ill – NASCAR officials disqualified the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota on Saturday afternoon, throwing out Christopher Bell’s third-place finish in the NASCAR Xfinity Series after his car failed post-race inspection.
According to Wayne Auton, managing director for the NASCAR Xfinity Series, the No. 20 failed the height station of post-race inspection, which is standard procedure for the top-five finishing vehicles and a sixth selected at random. Bell was demoted to a last-place result in the 38-car field.
“When we put the sticks on, the car failed both front heights and the right rear,” Auton said. “The front was extremely low. The right rear was a little high, which is normally what you’ll see whenever a car on the front sort of tilts toward the front. The rear’s going to come up; it’s got to go somewhere.”
The No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing operation has until Monday at noon ET to initiate the appeal process. No additional penalties will be handed down after the disqualification.
Additionally, NASCAR officials announced that the race-winning Stewart-Haas Racing No. 00 Ford of Cole Custer was found with one lug nut not safely secured after a post-race check. NASCAR Rule Book guidelines call for a fine issued to the crew chief for such an infraction, but the results for the No. 00 will stand.
Auton mentioned that the No. 20 JGR team was “one of our biggest assets” in the recent process of fine-tuning the inspection process in regards to ride heights. Auton said that inspectors now unhook the shocks before and after the race to provide a clearer baseline. Auton said officials checked the car for damage and found only a rub on a quarter panel, “not enough to look at anything,” he added.
Saturday, Auton said he conferred with No. 20 crew chief Jason Ratcliff before and after the inspection. “Things happen and we feel 100% confident that we did our job the way we do every car,” Auton said. “We checked every car the same way. We had five other cars that went right through the same process at the end of the race … and they all cleared the heights just fine. Since we started this in Daytona back in February, this is the first one that we’ve even seen close. I think Jason was a little surprised, and I’m sure they’ll go back and do their due diligence to see exactly what may have happened.”