NASCAR Issues Suspensions to No. 12 Team

Ryan Blaney

Getty Ryan Blaney's crew will lose multiple members due to a suspension.

Ryan Blaney’s team will be without three key members for the next four races. NASCAR has issued suspensions for a lost wheel at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The NASCAR penalty report provided the news on September 20. Crew chief Jonathan Hassler, rear-tire changer Zachary Price, and jackman Graham Stoddard will all miss the next four playoff races, starting with the trip to Texas Motor Speedway. They will be eligible to return after the Round of Eight opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

This lost wheel was a violation of Section in the NASCAR Cup Series Rule Book — Loss or separation of an improperly installed tire/wheel from the vehicle. NASCAR can decide whether or not to issue four-race suspensions for the lost wheel depending on when the incident occurred and where the vehicle was located.

This judgment call is key considering that another playoff driver lost a wheel on pit road. Kevin Harvick’s final stop was much longer than expected due to the right-front wheel coming off of the No. 4 Ford Mustang. However, this wheel remained in the same area instead of rolling away.

Blaney Lost a Wheel on Pit Road

Ryan Blaney

GettyRyan Blaney dealt with numerous issues at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Blaney’s trip to Bristol Motor Speedway did not feature many positive moments. He had speed early in the race, but a tire issue sent him into the wall and broke the toe link. He had to pit multiple times before spending a considerable amount of time behind the wall.

The lost wheel took place on Lap 93 after a pit stop to replace a flat tire. Blaney left his pit stall, but the left-rear wheel detached from the No. 12 Ford Mustang and rolled through several pit stalls. It ultimately came to a rest in the pit box for the No. 3 team of Richard Childress Racing.

There were questions about whether NASCAR would issue suspensions for the lost wheel. Officials had previously penalized the No. 2 team of Team Penske (New Hampshire Motor Speedway) but had not penalized the No. 20 team of Joe Gibbs Racing (Atlanta Motor Speedway) for lost wheels on pit road.

As the NBC analysts explained during the race, the deciding factor was likely the distance covered by the wheel. It traveled well down pit road instead of simply remaining near the No. 12 team’s stall. This presented a potential safety issue for other crews.

Blaney Still Advanced in the Cup Series Playoffs

Blaney dealt with numerous issues before ultimately finishing 30th in the race at Bristol Motor Speedway. He still managed to move on to the Round of 12 due to both his points cushion and the issues that disrupted other playoff drivers.

He will now move forward without his crew chief and two crew members, and he will try to secure a spot in the Round of Eight. He will pursue this goal at three tracks where he has previous wins.

Blaney has two wins at Talladega Superspeedway in his career, including the 2019 playoff race, which will provide some confidence heading toward the wild card race. He also has a win at the Charlotte Roval, the track that serves as the cutoff race for the Round of 12.

Blaney hasn’t won a points-paying race at Texas Motor Speedway, but he is the only driver to win at the intermediate track in the Next Gen era. He accomplished this feat in late May by winning the All-Star Race after a late battle with Denny Hamlin.

The driver of the No. 12 is in the Round of 12, but he will have to avoid any more issues to move on to the next round. He currently holds the final transfer spot by virtue of four points. Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe is the first driver below the cutline.

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