Logano’s team, Piquet penalized by NASCAR for infractions

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Tuesday in NASCAR is often “penalty day” and the first day of October was no exception for two members of the NASCAR Nationwide Series garage.

Penske Racing, whose race-winning No. 22 Discount Tires Ford driven by Joey Logano was too low in Nationwide post-race inspection after winning Saturday in Dover, has crew chief Jeremy Bullins fined $10,000 and team owner Roger Penske docked six entrant points in the owner’s championship.

Official violations for that car per NASCAR are: Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4J (any determination by NASCAR officials that the race equipment used in the event does not conform to the NASCAR rules detailed in Section 20-A of the NASCAR rule book, or has been approved by NASCAR prior to the event); and 20A-12.8.1(B) (the car failed to meet the minimum front car heights) of the 2013 rule book.

Elsewhere, Nelson Piquet Jr. was fined $10,000, required to participate in sensitivity training and placed on indefinite probation for violating NASCAR’s Code of Conduct policy.

Inflammatory, homophobic tweets posted Sept. 25 – since removed – were found to be in violation of Sections 7-5 (Code of Conduct) and 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing) of the 2013 NASCAR rule book.

“Nelson Piquet Jr. recently communicated an offensive and derogatory term that cannot be tolerated in our sport,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations, in a statement. “NASCAR’s Code of Conduct explicitly spells out in the 2013 rule book our position regarding the use of disparaging terms. We expect our entire industry to abide by this Code.”

Teammates James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens earn top-fives at Barber

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For the first time this season, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammates James Hinchcilffe and Robert Wickens earned top-five finishes in the same race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.

Hinchcliffe finished third in the Grand Prix of Alabama; Wickens was one spot behind in fourth.

Wickens had one previous podium at Phoenix with his second-place finish. Hinchcliffe’s best result was a fourth in the season-opener in St Petersburg, Fla., so this marked his first podium of the year.

Both drivers needed a little help from the rain.

As precipitation began to fall in the closing stages of the race, Hinchliffe asked his team on a couple of occasions if it was wet enough to pit for rain tires. He was told twice to stay out and was then called into to the pits at the optimal time.

“Solid weekend for us after coming here before – not a great test,” Hinchcliffe said. “Two cars in the top 10 qualifying; two cars, top five in the race. Pretty proud of these boys, everybody on the Arrow car.”

The rain helped Wickens’ race strategy come together.

“I was having to save a lot of fuel in that second stint,” Wickens said. “So once (Scott) Dixon starting getting close to me I was thinking ‘Oh God, I’m going to actually have to give this one up.’ And then the rain came, so the fuel mileage happened naturally. So, yeah, it saved us a bit.”

And while both were pleased with their top-five finishes, drivers are rarely satisfied unless they are standing on the top step of the podium.

Wickens’ top-five finish was hard-fought. After winning the pole at St Petersburg and starting sixth at Phoenix, he failed to advance to the Fast 6 in back-to-back races at Long Beach and Barber – qualifying 10th both times.

“I was a little gutted that we came out in a big bunch of traffic,” Wickens continued. “It made the race fun, but a little frustrating as well because of people off sequence and whatnot. We lost a lot of track position there. Both of us could have been fighting for higher steps on the podium, but we need to do a little better job in qualifying. “