NASCAR clarifies major penalties for Cole Custer’s No. 41 team
NASCAR announced Tuesday afternoon that the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing team and driver Cole Custer would be penalized for their actions on the final lap of Sunday’s Bank of America Roval 400 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.
Custer and his No. 41 team were each penalized 50 points. Custer and crew chief Mike Shiplett were each fined $100,000 and Shiplett was indefinitely suspended.
On the final lap of Sunday’s race, Custer slowed on the backstretch after being told by Shiplett that his car had a flat tire.
Custer was passed by several drivers, including teammate Chase Briscoe who made the Round of 8 by two points.
NASCAR’s Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller stated Shiplett had no way of knowing that Custer had a flat tire and the data showed Custer slowing after Shiplett radioed to him. However, Miller said the move didn’t help Briscoe as he was in before the move was made.
Miller said the move didn’t appear to be a coordinated effort as there was no egregious communication on Briscoe’s radio, compared to Custer’s radio which had communications that they believed “couldn’t be construed anything else”.
Miller clarified that, while Shiplett was suspended indefinitely, Custer wasn’t suspended because they felt his actions weren’t posing a danger in the same way others’ were when they were suspended – such as in 2015 when Matt Kenseth was suspended after infamously retaliated against Joey Logano and wrecked him at Martinsville.
Fans argued Chase Elliott made a similar move on Kevin Harvick in the September 2021 Bristol Night Race where he said he would help teammate Kyle Larson. However, NASCAR believed that was an instance of a driver “taking matters into their own hands” as Elliott made that comment while on pit road following contact with Harvick.
Stewart-Haas Racing will appeal NASCAR’s penalties. No word on who will serve as a replacement for Shiplett.
After the penalty, Cole Custer dropped two spots and is now 27th in NASCAR Cup Series points:
|25||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||524|
The bottom line is drivers help teammates week in and week out, yet it only seems to be a problem during playoff time. Take any track when a driver lets a teammate drop down in front of him, or when a race leader driver takes the slow lane like the inside at Bristol and lets the teammate on the outside take the fast lane, then pulls up in front of him so his teammate wont loose 3-5 spots. Which is 3-5 points. So to me helping a teammate during the playoffs is a non issue.