NASCAR Notes: Water Damage Forces Knaus, Letarte To Vacate Offices

Chad Knaus, Steve Letarte

Crew chiefs Chad Knaus and Steve Letarte are among those who have had to find a temporary workspace at Hendrick Motorsports after a water main valve broke and caused water damage in the shop's office space. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Even before the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup begins, the teams of Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have faced obstacles.

Some team members have had to find new places to work after a water main valve broke in the Hendrick Motorsports shop that houses both teams last week. The flooding damaged the shop’s office area, forcing crew chiefs Chad Knaus and Steve Letarte to seek temporary workspaces elsewhere in the building. Some of the engineering and office staff also had to relocate to temporary workspaces. All should be able to return to their offices in a week or two, according to a team spokesperson.

There was no damage to the shop floor, cars or equipment. The water damage did not impact car preparation and there has been no time lost in the shop.

The teams of Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne are housed in a separate building at Hendrick Motorsports and were not impacted by the water main break.

Too Fast On Pit Road

Chase drivers are among those who have been penalized the most for speeding on pit road this season.

With each position critical, any extra time on pit road can cost positions. A penalty could prove devastating to a team’s title hopes. No driver has won a Cup race after being penalized for speeding on pit road since Matt Kenseth did so Aug. 2013 at Bristol.

Travis Kvapil has been called for speeding on pit road a series-high five times. Next with four such penalties are Chase drivers Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson along with Dave Blaney and David Ragan.

Kevin Harvick, also in the Chase, has been caught speeding three times this year along with Michael Annett, Kyle Larson, Casey Mears, Joe Nemechek, Reed Sorenson, Tony Stewart and Brian Vickers.

Here’s how Chase drivers rank in speeding penalties this season:

4 - Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson

3 - Kevin Harvick

2 - Aric Almirola, Brad Keselowski

1 - AJ Allmendinger, Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman

0 - Greg Biffle, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards

Testing

Goodyear is conducting a tire test today at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Drivers in the Chase are not eligible to participate and that’s caused some unique driver lineups.

Those testing are:

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - Roush Fenway Racing

Ryan Blaney - Team Penske

Sam Hornish Jr. - Joe Gibbs Racing

Justin Allgaier - Hendrick Motorsports

Danica Patrick - Stewart-Haas Racing

Martin Truex Jr. - JTG Daugherty

Austin Dillon - Richard Childress Racing

Truex is in a JTG Daugherty car because AJ Allmendinger is in the Chase. JTG Daugherty and Truex’s team, Furniture Row Racing, are both aligned with Richard Childress Racing.

Hornish has driven select Nationwide races for Joe Gibbs Racicng. Blaney is a development driver for Team Penske. Allgaier drives for HScott Motorsports, which gets equipment from Hendrick Motorsports.

Also, here’s a look at updated testing schedule for Cup teams. Each organization is allowed four tests at tracks that host Cup races.

Sept. 22-23 at Texas Motor Speedway - Team Penske and Roush Fenway Racing

Oct. 7-8 at Martinsville Speedway - Chip Ganassi Racing

Oct. 13-14 at Martinsville Speedway - Team Penske and Germain Racing

Oct. 14-15 at Phoenix International Raceway - Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing and Leavine Family Racing

Oct. 21-22 at Homestead-Miami Speedway - Stewart-Haas Racing

Oct. 28-29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway - Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Team Penske and Richard Childress Racing

Bad Karma

At least one Chase driver has finished 30th or worse in the opening race each of the past three years at Chicagoland Speedway.

Denny Hamlin was 31st in 2011. Jeff Gordon was 35th in 2012. Joey Logano placed 37th, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. was 35th last year.

Logano and Earnhardt both failed to finish because blown engines. Seven of the 43 cars failed to finish last year’s race because of engine issues. That was the most engine failures in a Cup race since 2005.

With the Chase field being cut from 16 to 12 drivers after the third race (Dover), a poor finish at Chicagoland could spell doom for some title contenders unless they can win either of the next two races and automatically advance.

Prelude To Title?

Team Penske and Hendrick Motorsports have combined to win each of the first six races on 1.5-mile tracks this season, heading into Sunday’s race at Chicagoland Speedway (a 1.5-mile track).

Brad Keselowski has wins at Las Vegas and Kentucky for Team Penske. Teammate Joey Logano won at Texas. Hendrick’s wins came from Jeff Gordon (Kansas), Jimmie Johnson (Charlotte) and Kasey Kahne (Atlanta).

The driver who has scored the most points on 1.5-mile tracks this season, though, is not from either team. Matt Kenseth of Joe Gibbs Racing has scored 232 points on 1.5-mile tracks this season. Logano and Gordon each have scored 228 points on those tracks.

The difference? Although winless this season, Kenseth has finished in the top 10 in each race on 1.5-mile tracks. Logano and Gordon have not.

Five of the 10 Chase races are at 1.5-mile tracks, including the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Pit Stops

Defending series champion Jimmie Johnson has scored four consecutive top-10 finishes. That followed the worst five-race stretch of his career. ... Kyle Busch’s 14th-place finish last weekend at Richmond was his best in the last six races. He has four top-10 finishes in his last 17 Cup races. ... Dale Earnhardt Jr. has 16 top-10 finishes this season but only one in the last five races. ... In the last 10 races, Matt Kenseth has five top-10 finishes and four results of 20th or worse. ... NASCAR announced that it found no issues with the rear gear from Kyle Busch's winning Nationwide race. NASCAR took the rear gear to its R&D Center for further inspection after last weekend's race at Richmond.

               

 

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