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NASCAR suspends Ryan Blaney’s crew chief, penalizes team

NASCAR America breaks down the intense finale at the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona, Jimmie Johnson's final season and if Kyle Busch can rally from the bottom of the field and defend his title.

NASCAR suspended Ryan Blaney’s crew chief, Todd Gordon, for Sunday’s playoff opener at Darlington Raceway. NASCAR also docked Blaney and his team 10 points and will have him start at the rear of the field.

Blaney’s team was penalized for improperly mounted ballast. The violation was discovered in inspection before the Southern 500 (6 p.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN).

MORE: Southern 500 at Darlington: Start time, TV channel, forecast

The 10-point penalty drops Blaney to 2003 points and puts him 13th on the playoff grid entering the Southern 500. He was to have started seventh.

Team Penske issued a statement: “Team Penske’s No. 12 Ford Mustang was penalized for Improperly mounted ballast during inspection this afternoon prior to the NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington. A 5 pound bag of lead that is typically used during setup at the shop to simulate fluid weights prior to the race engine being installed was accidentally left in the car. The team accepts the penalty and Travis Geisler will serve as the crew chief for the No. 12 team this evening.”

Geisler is the organization’s competition director. He was a Cup crew chief from 2008-10 with Sam Hornish Jr.

This penalty could complicate the first round for Blaney. He’s struggled and Darlington and Richmond, the first two races in the opening round. He’s never finished better than 13th in seven Darlington Cup starts.