Ahead of Sunday’s Cookout Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, the first race of the 10-race 2020 NASCAR playoffs, playoff driver Ryan Blaney and his #12 Team Penske team found themselves in NASCAR’s proverbial doghouse. Blaney and his team were handed penalties, including a points penalty, because of improperly attached ballast [weight], discovered in pre-race inspection at Darlington.
Blaney lost 10 driver points and the team was docked 10 owner points. Blaney’s points deduction dropped him from seventh to a tie with reigning Cup Series champion Kyle Busch for 13th in the 16-driver playoff standings.
Crew chief Todd Gordon also was suspended for Sunday’s race. Team Penske Competition Director Travis Geisler will be interim crew chief at Darlington.
“Team Penske’s #12 Ford Mustang was penalized for Improperly mounted ballast during inspection this afternoon prior to the NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington,” a statement from Team Penske read. “A five-pound bag of lead that is typically used during setup at the shop to simulate fluid weights prior to the race engine being installed was accidentally left in the car. The team accepts the penalty and Travis Geisler will serve as the crew chief for the #12 team this evening.”
As a result of the rules infraction, Blaney will start Sunday’s race in the back of the 39-car field. Before the penalties, he was slated to start seventh.