The No. 78 team of Martin Truex Jr. failed inspection three times ahead of qualifying Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway and will thus lose car chief Blake Harris for Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (2 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM).
Truex also will lose 30 minutes of final practice time Saturday and start 35th in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, the second of the season.
“It’s unfortunate that we had a situation where we had multiple failures in what was otherwise a very successful debut for the Optical Scanning Station for a downforce track,” said Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competiion. “We had rear-wheel alignment problems and we had body scan problems and we just weren’t able to get all of the things legal in those attempts. We had body scan problems for the rear-wheel openings and we had rear-toe failures, as well. Between the combination of those times through, we just didn’t get a great light by the third time.”
Per the rule book, a crew member – chosen at the discretion of NASCAR — will be ejected for failing inspection three times.
“It’s a new process and we’re working hard – collectively, the whole garage is – to figure it out, to figure the boundaries out and how to get through and NASCAR is working with their equipment the same way and it’s tough,” Furniture Row Racing President Joe Garone said. “It’s tough. One time you go through, the next time you don’t. You go through again and some things pass that didn’t pass the time before. It’s just frustrating. But we’ll get it all worked out. It’s just a matter of time.”
Crew chief Cole Pearn will tentatively remain atop the pit box, as the team was unable to make a fourth inspection attempt due to time, Garone said. The rule book states that teams that fail four times will lose another crew member chosen at the discretion of NASCAR for the race.
“It’s just a weird set of circumstances,” Garone said. “The tolerances are very tight. It’s difficult to get through and push when you need to and be conservative when you need to and figure it all out.”
Inspection attempts will reset for pre-race inspection on Sunday.
In addition to Truex’s 30-minute practice penalty, Harrison Rhodes and Jimmie Johnson (failing inspection twice) and Jeffrey Earnhardt, Gray Gaulding, Michael McDowell and Cole Whitt (late to qualifying inspection) will all serve 15-minute holds.