Justin Haley, Kaulig Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
One NASCAR Cup Series team — and driver — have negative points in the standings after the 2023 season’s first six races.
After the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season’s fourth race at Phoenix Raceway, NASCAR dropped the hammer on several teams and drivers.
The most notable penalties came following the confiscation of the hood louvers of several cars, including the four Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets and Justin Haley’s No. 31 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet. All five of these teams were docked 100 points in the owner standings, and four of the five drivers were as well.
While the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports team was docked 100 points, no driver was penalized since Chase Elliott remains sidelined with a broken leg and replacement driver Josh Berry is not eligible for Cup Series points since he competes full-time for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series.
The penalty dropped the No. 9 team into negative point territory, but Berry was able to bring them back into positive digits with his 18th place finish in the next race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The points penalties to all four Hendrick Motorsports teams have since been rescinded after an appeal.
The No. 31 team also dropped into negative point territory, as did Haley. Four races into the season, the team had -40 points in the owner standings, and Haley had -40 points in the driver standings.
Haley was only able to pick up 15 points with a 22nd place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway, increasing that total from -40 to -25, and he was only able to pick up 18 more with a 19th place finish at Circuit of the Americas, increasing that total from -25 to -7.
So of the 8,025,292,677 people currently on planet Earth, Justin Haley literally ranks 8,025,292,677th in NASCAR Cup Series points.
But having been in negative point territory for three races in a row, why bring this stat up now?
Because Kaulig Racing have entered a third car, the non-chartered No. 13 Chevrolet, in this Sunday afternoon’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway. Chandler Smith is set to pilot the car in this race, and it is the lone non-chartered car on the entry list, guaranteeing it a spot in the starting lineup.
The only other appearance of the No. 13 Chevrolet and Smith this Cup Series season came at Daytona Interntional Speedway, in the Daytona 500 qualifying session and the first Bluegreen Vacations Duel race.
Smith ultimately failed to qualify for the race in either session and thus failed to make his Cup Series debut in the Great American Race.
So entering the No. 13 team’s second appearance of the season on Sunday afternoon, the No. 13 team ranks higher in the standings than the No. 31 team — with zero points and a DNQ.
The Toyota Owners 400 is set to be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1 from Richmond Raceway beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET this Sunday, April 2. If you have not already started a free trial of FuboTV, don’t miss your chance to do so now!