NASCAR penalized Michael McDowell and the No. 34 car at Front Row Motorsports 100 points on Tuesday.
The sanctioning body said that McDowell’s team modified a part that came from a single source vendor. It’s the second penalty of its kind this season after Brad Keselowski’s team was docked 100 points in the spring. Like Keselowski’s Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing team, Front Row was also fined $100,000.
NASCAR’s 2022 Cup Series car is primarily built with parts from approved vendors. It has made clear to teams that modifications of those spec parts are not allowed. McDowell finished sixth at Pocono on Sunday and his car was one of two cars chosen to go back to NASCAR’s R&D center for a closer look.
McDowell’s penalty comes after race winner Denny Hamlin and second-place finisher Kyle Busch were disqualified after the race because of illegal tape found on the front of their cars. Their disqualifications meant that third-place finisher Chase Elliott was declared the winner of the race.
McDowell’s crew chief Blake Harris has also been suspended for four races and the team loses 10 playoff points if McDowell qualifies for the playoffs.
That’s a long shot. McDowell was 20th in the standings after the Pocono race and had 447 points. He now has 347 points and drops to 26th in the points standings. He would need to win one of the final five races of the regular season and hope that no more than 16 drivers won a race to make the playoffs for a second consecutive season.
McDowell made the playoffs in 2021 after scoring a surprise win in the Daytona 500. He won on the final lap after Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano crashed while racing for the lead. McDowell was pushing Logano and was able to get through the wreck and was in front of the field when the yellow flag waved.
That win was McDowell’s first and, so far, only victory in the Cup Series.