Sean Gardner | Getty Images
Sean Gardner | Getty Images

Appeals Panel rules to keep four-race suspensions for No. 11 team

The National Motorsports Appeals Panel ruled Wednesday that penalties levied against Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 11 Toyota team will stand.

The three-member panel met to hear the organization’s appeal Wednesday, and the group later confirmed that the No. 11 team did violate Section 10.5.2.6 of the NASCAR Rule Book. That heading covers the separation of an improperly installed wheel.

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Sean Gardner | Getty Images
Sean Gardner | Getty Images

The safety infraction occurred May 2 during the rain-delayed conclusion of the DuraMAX Drydene 400 for the NASCAR Cup Series at Dover Motor Speedway. Hamlin won Stage 1 of the 400-mile race, but the left-front wheel detached from his No. 11 Toyota as he left pit road.

NASCAR announced penalties the next day, issuing four-race suspensions to three members of the No. 11 team — crew chief Chris Gabehart, jackman Derrell Edwards and tire changer Blake Houston. Those suspensions were deferred pending the appeal, and the trio was in place for Cup Series events at Darlington and Kansas the last two weeks.

As a part of Wednesday’s ruling, the panel modified the original penalty to make those suspensions take effect for the next four points-paying Cup Series events — if the decision is not appealed further. The initial suspensions had included this weekend’s NASCAR All-Star Race exhibition at Texas Motor Speedway among the four races. The penalty is now scheduled to span races at Charlotte (May 29), Gateway (June 5), Sonoma (June 12) and Nashville (June 26).

Joe Gibbs Racing has the option to take its case to the National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer, but the team did not immediately indicate whether it would file a final appeal.

NASCAR teams moved to the Next Gen car for the 2022 Cup Series, and the vehicle features a single, center-locking lug nut for the larger 18-inch wheels. Those replaced the 15-inch wheels and the five-lug fastening system from the previous-generation car. Since the start of the season, competition officials have issued nine penalties to Cup Series teams for the separation of a wheel during a race event.

The three members of the National Motorsports Appeals Panel who served in Wednesday’s hearing were: Kelly Housby, Bill Mullis and Kevin Whitaker.