Ryan Newman has been cleared of any technical infringements at Talladega Superspeedway, securing his place in the next round of the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.
Newman's car had failed post-race technical inspection following Sunday's race at Talladega Superspeedway, after the #31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet was found to be too low at both sides at the rear. While NASCAR has largely done away with minimum ride height rules in the Cup series this year, they remain in place for the season's four superspeedway events.
Newman's car had been removed and taken back to NASCAR's Research and Development Center in Concord, North Carolina for further analysis, and it was here that the sanctioning body determined that the ride hight anomaly was due to damage sustained during the race rather than any incorrect set-up issues by the RCR team.
Newman suffered a flat tyre at one point in the GEICO 500, and also suffered slight damage from contact with another car. He said that crew chief Luke Lambert had told him that the race damage had been enough to crumple the car's quarterpanels
As a result of the findings, NASCAR announced on Tuesday that Newman would not face any penalties and that his car was now retrospectively deemed to have cleared Talladega inspection based on the new information.
"I was worried, don't get me wrong, because you never know what could happen," Newman said after the announcement. "I was happy NASCAR took the time to take the car back to the Tech Center and analyse everything."
The confirmation will be a relief for Newman, who has spent the last two days with the possibility - albeit a faint one - that he could find himself ejected from the Chase despite finishing in fifth place at Talladega and in third place in the overall points standings.
There has not been a ride height penalty imposed in the Cup series since NASCAR introduced its new six-tier classification for different severities of infractions and their corresponding sanctions. However, a ride height penalty in the Camping World Truck Series earlier this year had been deemed a level three violation worthy of a ten point penalty.
There had been some concern that NASCAR might potentially raise this to a level four penalty in the Cup series which could have resulted in a maximum 35 point deduction for Newman - enough to drop him behind Kasey Kahne in the standings at the end of Sunday's race, which would have meant Newman losing his place in the next round of the Chase to Kahne.
"I didn't know if there was going to be a penalty and I didn't know what that penalty was going to be," Newman said. "I was confident it wasn't going to be more than 27 points, because that would be the biggest penalty for that type of [violation] ever that I could imagine or have heard of. But in the end, you never know."
But even the lesser ten point penalty could have been a big headache for Newman, if it had been applied to the points standings as they are now going into this weekend's race at Martinsville Speedway. All the remaining Chase contenders have had their points reset to 4000 in preparation for the next three-race Eliminator 8 Round, and if ten points had been taken off Newman at this stage then it would have been a big handicap to overcome before the next and final cutdown to four drivers is made at Phoenix.
However NASCAR's declaration on Tuesday afternoon that it had cleared the RCR team of any technical violations removed all doubts about the Chase line-up, and at the same time dashed Kasey Kahne's hopes of a last minute reprieve.
Current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Standings - Top 16
After post-Contender 12 Round reset
1. Joey Logano
2. Kevin Harvick
3. Ryan Newman
4. Denny Hamlin
5. Matt Kenseth
6. Carl Edwards
7. Jeff Gordon
8. Brad Keselowski
9. Kyle Busch
10. Jimmie Johnson
11. Kasey Kahne
12. AJ Allmendinger
13. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
14. Greg Biffle
15. Kurt Busch
16. Aric Almirola
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