DES MOINES, Iowa — NASCAR denied Ross Chastain‘s appeal Wednesday after his race-winning truck was disqualified following a postrace inspection at Iowa Speedway over the weekend.
National Motorsports Appeals Panel officer Bryan Moss heard Chastain’s appeal and chose to uphold the original penalties assessed by NASCAR for the No. 44 truck being too low. Niece Motorsports owner Al Niece had said the truck passed opening and pre-race inspections and may have suffered minor damage during the race that left it too low.
Chastain’s disqualification was the first under strict new rules put in place this season to deter cheating.
“Although our team disagrees with the decision, we have exhausted our options for recourse and must move on,” Niece said in a statement. “Our sight will remain set on the obstacle in front of us — which is making the playoffs.
“I firmly believe that Ross and this Niece Motorsports team are capable of rising to the challenge, no matter what gets in our way.”
NASCAR said that the last time it disqualified an apparent race winner was April 17, 1960, when Emanuel Zervakis’ victory at Wilson Speedway in North Carolina was thrown out because of an oversized fuel tank. The last driver stripped of a victory was Mike Skinner the day after a 1999 Xfinity Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway for an unapproved cylinder head. Skinner was dropped to 43rd, last in the field.
Skinner and his team filed an appeal, which was overturned two days later. Skinner was once again awarded the victory, but did not receive the usual first-place earnings.
Chastain’s misfortune on Sunday gave the victory to Brett Moffitt and Chastain will be scored as if he finished last, in addition to his victory and bonus points being stripped away. Chastain, who led the final 141 laps, also lost the $50,000 he had won for taking first in the “Triple Truck Challenge” marketing promotion that included the Iowa race.
“I’m not backing down from the fact that we beat everybody,” Chastain said in a Sirius radio interview Monday.
The loss could be devastating to Chastain’s playoff hopes.
Chastain recently decided to switch his championship pursuit this season from the Xfinity Series to trucks, but he was not allowed to count a trucks win at Kansas because he was not racing for the series title at the time. Drivers who have won races only need to finish 20th or better in the regular season to make the postseason, but Chastain now has a long way to climb.
NASCAR announced in February that thorough post-race inspections would take place at the track instead of midweek at the sanctioning body’s research and development center outside of Charlotte, North Carolina.
Winning teams found in violation of the rules in previous seasons were penalized with post-race fines, point deductions and/or suspensions. But drivers didn’t have victories taken away from them until Chastain was stripped of the victory.
Chastain said in the radio interview that he let NASCAR’s decision Sunday bother him for “about an hour.”
In a statement Wednesday, Chastain said he’s looking ahead.
“It’s actually very simple — Sunday is in the past,” Chastain said. “I’m focused on getting to Gateway [site of the next Truck Series race] and putting this Niece Motorsports truck in victory lane for the third time this year.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.