Ross Chastain ended Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway with a third-place finish, but that run has been nullified after his #45 Niece Motorsports truck failed post-race inspection. Consequently, he has been relegated to thirty-sixth and last in the running order.
Chastain, a Cup Series driver, was running his third Truck race of the year for Niece. After finishing third to notch his third top ten in as many starts in 2021, the #45 was found to have violated Section 22.214.171.124.a of the rulebook: “The throttle body must be used as supplied by the NT1 engine supplier without modification.”
The NT1 engine in question refers to the Ilmor 396 spec motor that various Truck teams use. As the rule suggests, Chastain’s crew presumably tinkered with the throttle body in the air intake system.
It is Chastain’s second career Truck Series disqualification. In 2019, shortly after switching from Xfinity to Truck points and also driving for Niece, his win at Iowa was void after being disqualified for being too low at the front. Despite the penalty, he went on to make the Championship Round and finish second in points.
Chastain is the first Truck disqualification of 2021 and the second in the national series after Tyler Reddick suffered the fate following the Xfinity race at Homestead in March. Xfinity driver Noah Gragson was disqualified after Darlington in May but successfully had it overturned on appeal.
Race winner John Hunter Nemechek cleared inspection, while Grant Enfinger is promoted to third after the disqualification. Josh Berry, running his first race for Rackley WAR, has been elevated to tenth for the team’s first top ten.
UPDATE (13 June): Niece Motorsports does not intend to appeal the penalty and has released the following statement:
“Following Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Texas Motor Speedway an issue with the throttle body of the No. 45 Chevrolet was discovered during post-race inspection.
“Generally. throttle bodies are good for 1,500 miles. At that time teams can either replace or repair the part.
“The throttle body used on the No. 45 Chevrolet was a throttle body that had been used previously.
“There is an issue with the current style of throttle body that causes the throttle body shaft to bend, which in turn causes the throttle to get stuck, or ‘hang wide open’.
“As this poses an obvious safety issue, the throttle body in question was sent off for repairs. The current throttle body comes from the supplier with Phillips-style bolts. The repairing party installed torx-style bolts during the repair process. These torx-style bolts are what caused the disqualification of the No. 45 Chevrolet at Texas Motor Speedway.
“The throttle body itself and the performance of the part was not modified outside of NASCAR’s specifications in any way. The torx-style bolts created no performance advantage. The team feels confident that if the throttle body in question was tested, it would show no performance advantage.
“While the team is confident in its innocence, it will not seek an appeal, based upon previous experience with the appeals system.
“I’m confident in our team and its ability to prepare first class race trucks within the confines of NASCAR’s rules,” said Niece Motorsports General Manager Cody Efaw. “We don’t have the funding or the wiggle room to carelessly cheat. There was no malicious intent in using torx bolts in the repair of the throttle body. Anyone who is familiar with how these race trucks operate knows that it is not a performance advantage in any capacity.”
“Due to the numerous issues with the current throttle body, NASCAR informed teams that they would implement a new one. The new throttle body is set to be implemented at the end of the week.”