The sanctioning body has listened to the appeal from Joe Gibbs Racing and has made a final decision. NASCAR has upheld the suspensions of Denny Hamlin’s crew chief and two crew members after the loss of a wheel and tire.
NASCAR announced the news on May 18, the same day that the No. 11 appealed the penalty handed out after the trip to Dover Motor Speedway. The appeals panel featuring Mr. Kelly Housby, Mr. Bill Mullis, and Mr. Kevin Whitaker determined that the No. 11 team violated Section 10.5.2.6 of the NASCAR Rule Book when the Toyota Camry lost its wheel exiting pit road.
The appeals panel made a modification to the previously assessed penalty. Crew chief Chris Gabehart, jackman Derrell Edwards, and front-tire changer Blake Houston will all miss the next four points-paying events. This means that they will be available for the All-Star Race on May 22 before missing races at Charlotte Motor Speedway, World Wide Technology Raceway, Sonoma Raceway, and Nashville Superspeedway.
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Hamlin Explained Why His Team Appealed
Several teams have received penalties in 2022 due to lost wheels. The list includes those featuring Corey LaJoie, Justin Haley, Bubba Wallace, AJ Allmendinger, Kaz Grala, and Todd Gilliland. Some have appealed the suspensions, and all have lost. So why did the No. 11 appeal?
Hamlin met with media members ahead of Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway and provided some context. He explained that the lost wheel was due to problems with NASCAR-issued tools and parts and that there was nothing that this crew could have done any differently to avoid the lost wheel.
“The general feeling and what I’ve heard is that this is not our gun, it’s not our nut,” Hamlin told media members on May 7. “These are all parts that are given to you and there is absolutely nothing that — we believe — our changers could have done differently. The nut falls out. I don’t know how we can control that.”
Another Team Received a Slightly Different Penalty
While the three members of the No. 11 team will miss the next four points-paying events, another team will follow a different suspension schedule. The No. 31 team of Justin Haley will be without three key members for the next four events, which include the All-Star Race.
Haley’s team lost a wheel during Stage 1 of the Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway. This was one of the multiple issues that the No. 31 team dealt with before ending the day 35th overall, and it led to multiple suspensions.
NASCAR announced on May 17 that the No. 31 team had violated Sections 10.5.2.6 in the NASCAR Rule Book: “Loss or separation of an improperly installed tire/wheel from the vehicle.” The sanctioning body issued four-race suspensions to crew chief Trent Owens, rear-tire changer Jonpatrick Kealey, and jackman Marshall McFadden. This is the second time that the No. 31 team has received suspensions for a lost wheel.