Erik Jones DQ’d from Cup Series playoff race at Richmond

Erik Jones’ solid run back into playoff contention was wiped out late Saturday night when his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota failed post-race inspection.

Jones – who finished 36th last weekend in the NASCAR Cup Series playoff opener at Las Vegas – was originally credited with a fourth-place finish Saturday night at Richmond, part of a 1-2-3-4 finish by the JGR organization.

NASCAR said the No. 20 Toyota failed the optical scanning system, which measures the hard points on the car body. The car will be taken back to NASCAR’s research and development center in Concord, N.C.

Jones’s disqualification is the first for a Cup team since NASCAR began its new policy before the start of the 2019 season that disqualifies race winners and others who fail at-track post-race inspection.

“There are fairly critical measurements on the rear-wheel alignment that have to be followed so there are any number of things that someone could do or not do to make it fail,” said Cup series director Jay Fabian.

“We give a pretty strong allowance on what they can run pre-race and post-race and it crept out of that range.

“Rear-wheel steer and alignment is a critical factor in downforce and it’s an aero benefit to get more skew in the rear so we keep those parameters pretty tight so everybody is racing with the same thing.”

Four disqualifications have come in the Xfinity Series this season, including the race winner (Denny Hamlin) at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. Truck series race winner Ross Chastain was disqualified from the June race at Iowa.

After the change to the series standings because of the disqualification, Jones now sits last among the 16 playoff drivers, 44 points behind the cutoff line.

That puts Jones in a very likely must-win situation in next week’s race at the Charlotte Roval if he is to have any hope of advancing to the second round of the playoffs.

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