News Analysis: Chase Elliott docked 15 points, Alan Gustafson suspended for spoiler modification

What happened: Chase Elliott was penalized 15 points and crew chief Alan Gustafson and car chief Joshua Kirk were suspended for one race apiece — plus a $25,000 fine for Gustafson — after NASCAR ruled the No. 24 team illegally modified the spoiler at Chicagoland using tape. In addition, the race was ruled to be an encumbered finish — meaning Elliott will not get credit for the playoff point he earned at Chicago if he makes Round 2.

What it means: On Monday, several teams sent pictures and video around the industry of the No. 24 team appearing to have tape hanging off the spoiler and down the sides of the car. This photo evidence was sent to NASCAR and also ended up on Reddit, where it became public. It’s interesting the teams, who have photographers shooting high-resolution images of every car during the race, became sort of a second set of eyes for NASCAR after studying the pictures (Elliott had passed at-track inspection after the race). This shows if there’s a visible part of the car that is illegally modified, teams themselves are likely to catch it and report to NASCAR and/or the media in order to keep a level playing field for themselves. Ultimately, though, the penalty might not harm Elliott that much; he was a comfortable 33 points inside the cutoff, but now falls from sixth place to eight place — 18 points head of the final playoff spot for Round 2.

News value (scale of 1-10): Three. This isn’t very big in the grand scheme of things, but it’s newsworthy in the sense that the NASCAR community — namely the teams, but also Reddit by proxy — sniffed out an act of cheating.

Three questions: Teams privately have said the tape added a significant amount of downforce to the car, but how much of a difference did it really make? Is there any way this could actually cost Elliott in terms of making the next round? What else will the garage be able to find in future weeks by examining the photo evidence each team takes during races?

15 Replies to “News Analysis: Chase Elliott docked 15 points, Alan Gustafson suspended for spoiler modification”

  1. Why are teams allowed to touch top finishing cars post-race, which would have allowed this subterfuge but-for the photos? have drivers drive directly to a parc ferme, (this includes the winner), NO ONE touches them until Nascar completes review

  2. I would think this falls under the same memo that NASCAR issue to teams regarding body (decal) wraps and the strips teams are putting across the bodies to create downforce. This certainly isn’t a new idea, teams are just working in a different area. I would have never thought a strip of tap any where would be an aerodynamic advantage. But that’s where this sport is. A shock shim the thickness of a penny can be the difference between a top 5 and running 20th

  3. This is why NASCAR has become boring. Let the teams play around. Cars are almost all the same. Boring Race real boring

  4. So we’re going to bellyache about a piece of tape on the spoiler yet the winner can rip the rear-end out of the car doing a burn out and that’s okay in NASCAR’s eyes. Got some priorities mixed up IMO.

    1. I made the same comment on Twitter a few hours ago. NASCAR should penalize any team that tears their car up durimg post race celebration.

  5. Why the lack of outrage over this yet everyone was so bothered by the 11 team’s violation from suspension tolerance a few weeks ago? Is it because Elliott finished 2nd and Hamlin won? Because from a performance standpoint extra downforce on the spoiler is a hell of a lot bigger advantage on an intermediate than a bent planar surface on a suspension mount at Darlington. I suspect the disparity in outrage has something to do with Hamlin driving a Toyota, who’s dominance has been maligned by many fans, while Elliott is in a Chevrolet. To my eyes it’s at least plausible that the violation on the 11 was caused by contact and wear over a race weekend while this incident was a deliberate attempt at body modification. It’s also notable that the 24 became a top-5 car almost instantly this weekend while the 11 has been among the best handful of cars for months at this point. A violation is a violation but let’s treat them equally in the press and as a fandom…

  6. Anyone else not think that there’s a huge problem when a simple piece of tape can help the car that much? Tape for God’s sake! These cars are so aero dependent that soon a simple piece of dust might add 10lbs. of downforce. Blame Chase’s crew all you want, but this is what happens when the cars are so similar and the driver can’t make a difference. Teams get desperate to find any small advantage they can. NASCAR has put the teams in a box with the current aero package. Something needs to change with these cars, and very soon too. The fans are fed up with it, and I know the drivers are too.

  7. It is now car, not driver and I have changed from can’t miss TV to not watching anything the past month. I just don’t care anymore.

  8. Well I am a Elliott fan but if putting the tape on is wrong it’s wrong, I thought that the Drivers were not to step on the roof after a win and one driver did this both times he won so my question is, can they put there foot, feet on the roof after a win?

    1. That was a rule when they had height requirements, they do not have height requirements anymore so its likely not a rule. teams probably frown on this more then NASCAR at this point because the green house area typically does not get re skinned after a race,

  9. This is why NASCAR is losing it’s fanbase. I’m a fan from the 70s and they have about ruined the sport over the continuous rule issues.
    NASCAR should just build 40 “IROC” cars at their head quarters and let 40 drivers picked from a lottery to race every weekend. Out of all my ol’ friends from back in the day, I’m the only one half way keeping up with this shit. I’m about done. This roaming circus will never re-create the magic it once had. Clown ‘s like the Busch brothers is when it started down hill. Not until them did we have disrespect on a regular basis towards the establishment, and many more followed suit. Maybe I just don’t get it. I’m just some old fool that was raised different. I’m digressing now.
    Time to watch YouTube videos of Pearson and Petty again to ease my stess.

  10. Cheating! At Hendrick Motorsports? No, say it isnt so….

    I was listening to Clair B. Lang on Sirius NASCAR last night, she doesn’t like the term; “Tape Gate” associated with this because in her words She “doesn’t know the facts as to what was done or if it was done.” she continued “I will always tell you the truth.”

    What Clair B. Lang has omitted is that she does radio commercials with Chase Elliott and NAPA so she has a conflict of interest and cannot say anything negative about the team nor NAPA. Face it Clair, they got caught cheating!

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