Chase Elliott’s NASCAR title chances take hit with penalty

Chase Elliott
Chase Elliott climbs into his car before practice for the NASCAR Xfinity series auto race in Concord, N.C., Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Chase Elliott suffered a setback to his championship hopes when NASCAR penalized his Hendrick Motorsports team Tuesday for a modification to his Chevrolet in the opening round of the playoffs.

The aerodynamic modification was found in post-race inspection following Elliott’s second-place finish on Sunday at Chicagoland. The finish is now considered “encumbered” by NASCAR.

Crew chief Alan Gustafson was fined $25,000 and suspended one race, and car chief Joshua Kirk also was suspended one race. The team was docked 15 driver points and 15 owner points.

The loss in driver points dropped Elliott from sixth place to eighth place in the postseason standings. There are two races remaining in the opening round of the playoffs.

Hendrick Motorsports says it won’t appeal the penalty and Kenny Francis will step in for Gustafson.

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