NASCAR officials said they would be taking a stronger stance in regards to violation of the rules and they didn’t waste any time, suspending the car chiefs for drivers Chase Elliott, Ty Dillon and Auston Dillon for this Sunday’s Daytona 500. Josh Kim, Elliott’s car chief, Greg Ebert, who works for Austin Dillon, and Billy Plourde, Ty Dillon’s car chief, are all banned from the garage.

Austin Dillon
Austin Dillon is the defending champion of the Daytona 500, but will be without car chief Greg Ebert, who was suspended. (Image: Getty)

They will be eligible to return the following race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The trio were suspended for repeated inspection failures before qualifying for the biggest race on the NASCAR schedule. The drivers also lost 15 minutes of practice time for Daytona.

Austin Dillon is the defending champion, but his odds went from 30/1 to 40/1 after the announcement. Elliott also saw his odds rise from 11/1 to 12/1. Ty Dillon went from 90/1 to 100/1.

Last year Dillon was penalized, and Ebert ejected, after the Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet failed pre-race inspection three times before the August race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

J.J. Watt Grand Marshal

J.J. Watt, the Houston Texans All-Pro defensive end, has agreed to be the grand marshal for the Daytona 500. He will be the first NFL player ever to be named to the position.

Retired NASCAR star, and current NBC analyst, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will serve as the honorary pace truck driver.

That might not be the only time Earnhardt is on the track. The 44-year-old hinted before the start of the Rolex 24 two weeks ago, that he could see himself in this race.

“This is such an amazing, amazing event,” Earnhardt said. “I said on the way over here, they better be careful because we may come out of retirement and run this thing one more time. I‘ve always had that in the back of my mind, coming back. Even the last several years I‘ve watched this race from home from start to finish because I‘m such a fan of it.”

Harvick No Fan of Clash

The advance Auto Parts Clash was kind of a dud last weekend, and one driver wouldn’t miss it if the annual exhibition race was eliminated. Kevin Harvick was on Sirius/XM NASCAR Radio on Monday and said the race is unnecessary.

“The Clash is one of those things that I think we could probably eliminate as we go forward and look at the new schedule,” said Harvick, who finished 12th in the race. “And the reason that I say that is you’re trying to bring a lot of guys into the race. And originally when The Clash was brought about, it was about the (Daytona 500) pole winners and past winners of that particular race. They had a lot of guys that weren’t pole winners, and you have guys that were in the playoffs that were in the race.”

Harvick said the cost of replacing the cars that were involved in the massive wreck in the race, is a compelling reason to take the race off the schedule.

This Week’s Pick

The Daytona 500 is more based on luck than skill, but I like co-favorite Brad Keselowski to take the checkered flag. He is at 8/1 with Joey Logano, and it could be his time to get his first Daytona 500.

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