NASCAR AMERICA: Wednesday Round-Up Includes Denny Hamlin Interview (VIDEO)

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Wednesday was a big news day in NASCAR, and NASCAR AMERICA hit the key topics as Denny Hamlin weighed in on the large penalties assessed to his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing team and Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s new crew chief for 2015 was named.

Hamlin joined the NASCAR AMERICA crew to discuss the penalty that was dealt to his team after the Brickyard 400. Hamlin’s crew chief and car chief were suspended for six races and he was docked 75 points in the Chase. Hamlin says the penalties will force him to be even more focused on race day.

The NASCAR AMERICA crew analyzed the points penalty,  suspension, and fine of the team’s crew chief Darian Grubb, as Hamlin’s car did not have its rear firewall block-off plates sealed off Sunday at the Brickyard 400. The penalty is ranked a P5 penalty on NASCAR’s new penalty ranking scale (with penalties ranked from P1 as the lowest and P6 as the highest).

In the wake of the penalties assessed to the No. 11 car, Joe Gibbs Racing plans to appeal. The team had three cars finish in the top four at the Brickyard 400, but the celebration was halted as Hamlin and his team were penalized after his car failed a post-race inspection. Kyle Petty and Jeff Burton believe the punishment is fair, but would like more consistency on these decisions from NASCAR.

Meanwhile the announcement Greg Ives will take over as Earnhardt Jr.’s crew chief from 2015 on the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports entry was the biggest new news from Wednesday. The NASCAR AMERICA crew believes Ives is ready to handle the pressure of working with NASCAR’s most popular driver. Ives replaces NBC Sports-bound Steve Letarte.

Montoya: ‘Hopefully I get a chance to do Indy again’ (VIDEO)

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Juan Pablo Montoya is on site at this weekend’s United States Grand Prix, his latest trip in a summer and fall filled with a lot of international travel and a number of different race cars he’s been in.

Montoya is committed to a full season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with Acura Team Penske in 2018, as he’ll share one of the team’s Acura ARX-05s with Dane Cameron.

However, the question of whether he’ll be able to race in the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil remains.

Team Penske has said it plans to only run four cars next month of May, with Helio Castroneves as the fourth driver alongside the three full-time cars driven by Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power.

While Montoya has said elsewhere that he’s shopping offers and has talked with other teams, it’d be highly surprising to see the two-time Indianapolis 500 champion who developed the Chevrolet engine for IndyCar’s 2018 Dallara universal body kit in a Honda-powered IndyCar, although he is running Honda’s brand (Acura) in sports cars.

Montoya elaborated on his Indy 500 prospects in an interview with NBCSN pit reporter and insider Will Buxton at the Circuit of The Americas.

“Not full-time no,” Montoya told NBCSN of his IndyCar 2018 prospects. “Hopefully I get a chance to go to Indy, hopefully with Penske, (and) if not someone else. We’ll see.”

Photo: IndyCar

Montoya has extolled the early testing both on the 2018 IndyCar and on the Acura ARX-05.

The first Acura chassis has run at Road Atlanta and Sebring International Raceway thus far, and will be put through its paces at other venues over the next few months.

“It’s been good. We did a lot of work with INDYCAR on that car. Fans are gonna like it,” Montoya said of the 2018 kit.

“Going to IMSA with the Acura program, we’ve done a lot of testing. It’s a beauty to drive. It drives better than what it looks! I haven’t had that much fun driving a race car in a long time.”

Acura ARX-05 Daytona Prototype international (DPi) race car to be campaigned by Team Penske in 2018