NASCAR Slams SHR Driver Custer and Crew Chief

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, October 12 2022

Cole Custer took a hit to his wallet on Tuesday. (File photo courtesy of NASCAR)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

CONCORD, N.C. – NASCAR assessed stiff penalties Tuesday against Stewart-Haas Racing, driver Cole Custer and crew chief Michael Shiplett for an incident that occurred during the final lap of last weekend’s Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Custer was fined $100,000 and docked 50 points. Shiplett also was fined $100,000 and indefinitely suspended from NASCAR. SHR lost 50 owner points. 

SHR has appealed the ruling.

NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller said audio from the SHR teams of Custer and Chase Briscoe were scrutinized as well as video and data from Custer’s car.

Video showed Custer slowed drastically, blocked Austin Dillon and Erik Jones who was on Dillon’s bumper. That allowed Briscoe to pass all three before entering the backstretch chicane. 

“Obviously, we found some things that we felt like we had to react to,” Miller said. “The data was pretty telling and then when we got to the audio and had the crew chief telling the driver that ‘I think you gotta flat checkup, checkup, checkup’ when he couldn’t even see the car or have any idea whatsoever that the car might have a flat (that’s) pretty telling as to what went on there.

“Nothing contradicted the fact that, that was done deliberately by those individuals, so we were certainly forced to react. We can’t have teams manipulating the finishing order. Blatantly pulling over and changing the finishing order on the last lap is what makes it over the top and especially with instructions from the pit box.”
Miller said NASCAR discussed suspending Custer but decided to go with precedent which showed the only time a driver had been suspended in the past was for “super flagrant things” that eliminated other competitors or for actions that were “dangerous in nature.”

They also listened to Briscoe’s team transmissions and found “nothing that we could even remotely point to as being any kind of scandalous conversation on the radio.” Miller said officials ruled out penalizing Briscoe “pretty early” in the process once they realized Briscoe would have advanced into the Round of 8 either way. If Briscoe and Kyle Larson had tied, Briscoe would have gained entrance to the Round of 8 on the tiebreaker. However, the finishing order left Larson two points below the cutline.

Miller said this was different from last year’s incident at Bristol when Chase Elliott blocked Kevin Harvick, allowing Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson to catch and eventually pass him for the victory because Elliott’s actions didn’t occur as the result of orders from the pit box. Elliott’s decision came after he and Harvick tangled while racing for the lead. 

The punishment assessed SHR was similar to an incident at Richmond Raceway in September 2013 when Michael Waltrip Racing was penalized for intentionally altering a race’s outcome. Clint Bowyer spun in the race’s closing laps for a caution that allowed teammate Martin Truex Jr. to grab the lead from Ryan Newman and the last spot in the playoffs. Once NASCAR reached a decision that the race’s finish had been manipulated by MWR, they added Newman to the playoffs. 

In other penalties issued Tuesday, Alexander Yontz, the crew chief on the No. 10 NASCAR Xfinity Series car, was fined $5,000 for a loose lug nut. Crewman Eric Woods received an indefinite suspension from NASCAR for a behavioral issue.  


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, October 12 2022
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