NASCAR officials announced on September 20 that the No. 12 would lose crew chief Jonathan Hassler, rear-tire changer Zachary Price, and jackman Graham Stoddard for four races. Now the team has decided to appeal.
FOX Sports’ Bob Pockrass provided the update on September 23. He said that Team Penske would appeal the decision, which will mean that the entire No. 12 team will be on hand for the trip to Texas Motor Speedway. The suspensions will remain on hold until Team Penske meets with the Appeals Panel.
The four-race suspensions stem from a lost wheel at Bristol Motor Speedway, which was a violation of Section 10.5.2.6.D in the NASCAR Cup Series Rule Book — Loss or separation of an improperly installed tire/wheel from the vehicle.
Ryan Blaney’s No. 12 lost the left-rear wheel during a pit stop on Lap 93. It rolled down pit road and came to a stop in the stall of Austin Dillon’s No. 3 team.
Team Penske Remains Unlikely to Win This Appeal
The previous teams that have appealed the four-race suspensions have not been successful. Joe Gibbs Racing and Kaulig Racing are only two of the examples, so why would Team Penske follow with an appeal of its own?
There are two reasons. One, the team believes that it has a legitimate chance to win. The second, and more likely, is that there will be an immediate benefit to making the decision to appeal.
When a team notifies NASCAR that it will appeal, the suspensions get put on hold. The crew chief and the crew members can go to the track and fill their normal roles. This is immensely important for the trip to Texas Motor Speedway considering that this opening race is the best opportunity for Blaney to win and reach the Round of Eight.
Blaney is the only driver with a win at Texas Motor Speedway in the Next Gen era. He won the All-Star Race in May after a late caution due to Ricky Stenhouse Jr. hitting the wall.
Even if the appeal fails or the team decides not to follow through with the appeal, Blaney will still have his best team around for the trip to Texas. This will matter more than it would for the race at Talladega Superspeedway considering that he could get caught up in a random wreck.
Blaney Has Solid Odds Heading to Texas Motor Speedway
The driver of the No. 12 Ford Mustang remains winless in points-paying races in 2022. He will have a solid opportunity at Texas Motor Speedway based on his All-Star Race win and his four consecutive top-10 finishes in points-paying events.
Blaney enters the weekend with solid odds to win, per BetMGM. He sits at 10-1, which puts him seventh overall among Cup Series drivers. Denny Hamlin tops the list at 6-1 while Kyle Larson is at 7-1. Chase Elliott (8-1), Christopher Bell (8-1), Ross Chastain (9-1), and Kyle Busch (9-1) are just ahead of him.
Whether or not Blaney wins, he will have an opportunity to gain some ground during the trip to Texas Motor Speedway. He can secure some crucial points, which could help him move from the final transfer spot and only four points to the good to a much stronger position.