Following a wheel confiscation on Sunday, NASCAR has issued an L2 penalty to the #98 Thorsport Team. The team violated section 14.16.A and 14.16.1.A & C of the Truck Series rule book.
Before qualifying at the Milwaukee Mile, Ty Majeski had the right rear wheel of the #98 Ford F-150 confiscated. The #98 Thorsport team would lose that tire for the race and Crew Chief Joe Shear was ejected from the race track. The team was forced to start from the rear of the field and serve a pass-through penalty on the first lap.
PENALTY: The No. 98 team has been assessed an L2 penalty following pre-qualifying inspection in Milwaukee.
The team and driver have been assessed a deduction of 75 points and 5 NASCAR Playoff points.
Additionally, the crew chief of the No. 98 has been fined $25,000 and… pic.twitter.com/PyIqO3no8Q
— NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Trucks (@NASCAR_Trucks) August 29, 2023
In addition to the penalties given at the track Sunday, NASCAR announced Tuesday, the issuance of the L2 penalty. Ty Majeski will lose 75 driver points, and 5 playoff points. The #98 team will also lose 75 owners points and 5 playoff points. Joe Shear has been fined $25,000 for the infraction.
NASCAR Officials found the team to be in violation of sections 14.16.A and 14.16.1.A and C. The first section, regarding wheels and tires, only allows wheels specified in the parts database to be allowed in competition. 14.16.1.A and C covers the useful life of wheels. The section says that approved wheels can be used for five years in competition.
What Caused the Penalty?:
While the specifics of the infraction have not been released yet, rumors have been circulating. The speculation is that the team was attempting to use a bleeder valve on the valve stem of the tire. On the Dirty Mo Media podcast “Door Bumper Clear”, Freddie Kraft, spotter for Bubba Wallace brought up the penalties given on Sunday. At 39:28 in the podcast, Kraft mentioned that “Majeski is probably lucky he won IRP because he is getting ready to get smashed with a fine”. Another spotter, Brett Griffin, asked “What do you think he was doing?”. Kraft responded “There are some rumors about possible bleeders in the tires”.
What is a bleeder and what function does it serve? Veteran crew chief Larry McReynolds explains them here:
How does this affect Ty Majeski’s championship run?:
With his win at Indianapolis Raceway Park, the first race of the Truck Series playoffs, Majeski was locked into the next round. The points penalty will set him back to tenth in the points, but the win advances them into the round of eight. The penalty will hurt the team if they do not make it to the race at Phoenix. The final race at Phoenix locks those four teams into the top four in both drivers and owners’ points. If the #98 team is eliminated before Phoenix, the penalty will move them further down the points standings.
While the fine and points penalties are harsh, those are not going to hurt the team. Suspending Joe Shear, could hurt the team’s playoff dreams. In 2022, Majeski and Shear won two of the last five races, Bristol and Homestead. The pair finished fourth in the championship.
The #98 team is heading to tracks where they have won races without the crew chief that led them to those victories. I think that could be detrimental to their success and ability to advance through the playoffs. In 2023, crew chiefs are never not in contact with the team at the track while suspended. Placing a new variable into the team with five races left, and two that the team won last year, could be fatal to success.
I believe in Majeski’s ability to drive the truck to victory at any racetrack the Truck Series, but this could end his season. Diamonds are made under pressure, now we will see if this team is championship material or will crack under this penalty.
Ty Majeski and the #98 team will head to Kansas Speedway for the Kansas Lottery 200 on September 8th.