NEWS & NOTES
PIT PLACEMENT Another discrepancy in NASCAR’s in-race officiating appeared during Sunday’s Bank of America 500 when Jimmie Johnson’s pit crew failed to secure lug nuts correctly during a late-race stop. Johnson’s crew chief Chad Knaus caught the error and told Johnson to stop and reverse to the pit box to correct the gaffe. But when Johnson’s front tire changer secured the remaining lug nuts, the nose of Johnson’s Chevrolet was several feet over the front line of the team’s assigned pit box. A NASCAR rule indicates performing pit work beyond the bounds of the box garners a one-lap penalty, but NASCAR didn’t cite Johnson for the infraction thanks to an unwritten policy that allows the infraction for safety reasons. An NBC Sports interview with Martin Truex Jr. crew chief Cole Pearn revealed that not all competitors were aware of the allowance. BOWMAN BREAKTHROUGH The next driver of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 is officially a NASCAR winner. Alex Bowman went to Victory Lane Saturday night in the XFINITY Series race at Charlotte after enduring a multi-hour rain delay and eight caution periods. Bowman, 24, led the last 32 laps after passing future Hendrick Motorsports Cup teammate William Byron for the lead. The race was Bowman’s 51st XFINITY start but his first of the 2017 season — an opportunity that came in a Hendrick-sponsored Chevrolet entry operated by Chip Ganassi Racing. The Charlotte success came one full season after Bowman, working as the injured Earnhardt’s replacement last season, put the No. 88 on the pole for the Phoenix fall Cup race in 2016. Bowman has worked in recent years as a test and simulator driver for Hendrick and earned the nomination to the No. 88 seat over the summer.