Ross Chastain disqualified, first under new NASCAR policy

by Justin Nguyen

Less than an hour after celebrating his M&M’s 200 Gander Outdoors Truck Series win at Iowa Speedway, Ross Chastain‘s victory has been revoked. After his #44 Niece Motorsports truck failed post-race inspection, he was officially disqualified and his first-place finish taken away, relegating him to last and nullifying his playoff points earned in the race. Instead, runner-up Brett Moffitt has been crowned the race winner, his first win of 2019.

Chastain had led a race-high 141 of 200 laps in the race. After pole sitter Chandler Smith, making his Truck début, led the first 55, Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter also spent time in the front before Chastain took the lead on lap 60 and never looked back. He also won both stages to mark a sweep, but with the disqualifications, stage runners-up Crafton and Ben Rhodes will receive the stage wins.

In particular, Chastain’s #44 was found to be too low in the front. The disqualification policy was implemented for the 2019 season across NASCAR’s three national series (Monster Energy Cup, Xfinity, Truck); in previous years, the maximum punishment was an L1-level penalty that removed a driver’s points but allowed them to keep the win. Described by NASCAR Executive Vice President Steve O’Donnell as an effort to make a “total culture change” when it was created, Chastain’s disqualification marks the first under the new rule.

Should they choose to, Niece Motorsports may appeal the penalty in an “expedited process”. Chastain had switched from Xfinity to Truck points in early June, figuring the move would enable him to better compete for a title in that series. In order to qualify for the playoffs, he needs to win a race and reach the top twenty in points. When he initially won the Iowa race, it promoted him with 14 points of twentieth in the Truck standings, but the disqualification will force him to win again with six races remaining in the regular season.

“Our Niece Motorsports team works hard to ensure that our race trucks are within the confines of NASCAR’s rules,” team owner Al Niece said in a statement. “Both of our Chevrolets passed opening and pre-race inspections. We believe that the No. 44 Truck sustained minor damage during the event, which left the truck too low following the race. We will appeal NASCAR’s decision. Regardless of the outcome, this team will be prepared to go to Gateway and win again.”

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