The most dominant force in the NASCAR Nationwide Series will have to start from the back in today’s 300-mile Nationwide race at Auto Club Speedway.
The No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Kyle Busch, who has already won twice in four Nationwide starts this season, was unable to pass inspection and could not take part in the first round of qualifying.
“Initially, we went around because our wheel studs were too short and when we came back through, we’d fixed the wheel studs and we had too much skew in it,” crew chief Adam Stevens said to Fox. “We didn’t do anything to change the skew but the numbers jumped on the [inspection] platform.
“We all go across the same platform, and we rolled through last night and we were happy with all the numbers that we had. So we start backing skew out of it, a little bit at a time, and the numbers aren’t moving…For some reason, the adjustments we’ve made haven’t moved the needle and baby-stepping it hasn’t done it, and we’ve run out of time.”
Dustin Long of Motor Racing Network reports word from NASCAR managing director of competition John Darby that a rear axle housing issue on the No. 54 was behind them failing to pass inspection.
As a result, Busch will start 39th in the TreatMyClot.com 300, which could make for a wild show as he attempts to rip through the field once again.
Two weeks ago in the Nationwide race at Las Vegas, he was forced to start from the rear due to his team having to make an unapproved adjustment after the cars had been impounded post-qualifying.
He was back in the Top 10 by the time the race had reached 20 laps, and went on to finish second to Brad Keselowski.
As for who will be on the pole for today’s race, that honor goes to one of Busch’s JGR teammates, Elliott Sadler. His final-round lap of 176.991 miles per hour in the No. 11 JGR Toyota was enough to out-hustle a third JGR man, Matt Kenseth (176.948 mph).
Ty Dillon and Joey Logano will start from Row 2, with the JR Motorsports tandem of Chase Elliott and Kevin Harvick following in Row 3. Turner Scott Motorsports partners Dylan Kwasniewski and Kyle Larson make up Row 4, while Richard Childress Racing’s Brian Scott and Brendan Gaughan sit in Row 5.
Nationwide points leader Regan Smith will start on the inside of Row 6 along with James Buescher. Trevor Bayne, who sits just one point behind Smith in the championship, qualified 13th.
JGR has won the Fontana Nationwide race nine consecutive times and could very well make it a 10th straight triumph later today. The green flag is set to drop shortly after 5 p.m. ET.