Joe Gibbs Racing will not appeal penalty
August 07, 2014, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com
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Joe Gibbs Racing officials will not appeal the penalties dealt to the No. 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team and driver Denny Hamlin.
"After sitting down to review everything it was determined that we should not proceed with an appeal," said Chris Helein, vice president of communications for JGR.
NASCAR officials confiscated block-off plates from Hamlin's car following the Crown Royal Presents, The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Two days later, Hamlin and his team were stripped of 75 driver and owner points while crew chief Darian Grubb and car chief Wesley Sherrill were suspended for six races. Grubb was also fined $125,000.
Speaking to SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, Senior Vice President of Racing Operations for JGR, Jimmy Makar said the team "made a mistake."
"It wasn't (intentional), obviously but there was no reason to (appeal)," he said.
JGR officials initially said they planned to appeal the penalties, although Grubb and Sherrill began serving their suspensions in order to be able to return in time for the start of this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Makar, a championship-winning crew chief with driver Bobby Labonte in 2000, also told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that "the silver lining in the dark cloud" was that Grubb and Sherrill would be able to "spend more time preparing for the Chase and getting cars ready and things in order to be a little bit more well prepared for when the Chase does start.
"We are going to try and make the very best of the situation. We've got some real capable, competent people to step up and take care of things at the race track for them while their serving the penalties. Maybe, just maybe, we can turn this into a positive."
Team engineer Mike Wheeler took over as interim crew chief at Pocono, where Hamlin finished ninth in the GoBowling.com 400. Former car chief Chris Gillin is acting car chief in Sherrill's absence.
The Chase is slated to begin Sept. 14 at Chicagoland Speedway, with both Grubb and Sherrill expected to return at that time.
Block-off plates are used to seal areas inside of the car at certain race tracks and keep air from traveling outside the interior. Altering or failing to install the pieces properly is a safety violation and can also alter the downforce of the car.
The infraction was deemed a P5-level penalty, which carries a 50-point loss and fines of $75,000 to $125,000 as well as a six-week suspension for the acting crew chief and any other team members determined by NASCAR. The additional 25 points lost and $50,000 in fines was the result of the severity (P5) of the infraction and because it was discovered during post-race inspection.
The points loss dropped Hamlin from 11th to 21st in the points standings, his current position as the series heads to Watkins Glen for Sunday's Cheez-It 355 at the Glen.
JGR officials had until the close of business Friday (Aug. 8) to submit an appeal.
Teams are not required to notify NASCAR if the decision is made not to appeal a penalty.