JGR to appeal heavy penalties against No. 11 team
July 29, 2014, Staff report, NASCAR.com
Joe Gibbs Racing will appeal the heavy penalties levied against its No. 11 team Tuesday — but begin serving the suspensions to its crew chief and car chief nonetheless.
NASCAR stripped Denny Hamlin 75 points and levied six-race suspensions against crew chief Darian Grubb and car chief Wesley Sherrill as part of penalties stemming from violations discovered in the car's firewall following Sunday's Sprint Cup Series event at Indianapolis, where Hamlin finished third. The violation falls under the heading of a P5-class infraction, according to the new NASCAR deterrence system. It is the most severe punishment issued under the new penalty structure, which was implemented prior to this season.
In a statement, JGR said it would appeal the penalties, but still begin serving the suspensions to Grubb and Sherrill beginning this weekend at Pocono Raceway. By beginning to serve the suspensions this week, the No. 11 team would be almost assured of having Grubb and Sherrill back on the pit box for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup opener at Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 14.
The six-week duration of the suspensions covers the rest of the Sprint Cup regular season. Had JGR sent Grubb and Sherrill to the track while the penalties were being appealed — which teams are able to do under NASCAR's appeals system — the organization risked losing key personnel for Chase races should the penalties be upheld later, and the suspensions remain in place.
JGR will appeal the penalty through the National Motorsports Appeals Panel. Three members of the panel will hear an initial appeal at a date to be determined. Should the penalties be upheld, JGR has the ability to plead its case to the Final Appeals Officer.
JGR was also hit with a major penalty last season, after Matt Kenseth was docked 50 points and crew chief Jason Ratcliff suspended six races for engine connecting rods that were found to be too light after the No. 20 team won at Kansas. A three-member appeals panel significantly reduced those penalties, dropping the point deduction to 12 and the crew chief's suspension to one.