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Chase Elliott’s NASCAR title chances take hit with penalty

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017 10:09 a.m. CDT

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 and Elliott does not keep a playoff point he earned with a stage victory at Chicagoland.

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 said it won’t appeal the penalty and Kenny Francis will step in for Gustafson this weekend.

The issue with Elliott’s car surrounded a piece of tape applied to the rear spoiler in what other teams believed was an effort to gain more downforce. Photos and videos were presented to NASCAR that appeared to not only show the tape, but also a crew member removing the tape following the race.

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