James Gilbert | Getty Images
James Gilbert | Getty Images

No penalty for No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team for lost wheel on pit road at Atlanta

NASCAR officials did not penalize the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota team for a lost wheel on pit road during Sunday’s Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The left-rear wheel on Christopher Bell’s No. 20 Camry became dislodged shortly after he left his pit stall with 22 laps remaining in the Quaker State 400. The force of the car’s launch pulled the tire changer along, and the No. 20 entry soon skidded to a halt on three wheels.

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The loss of a wheel during competition has frequently resulted in four-race suspensions for the team’s crew chief, tire changer and jack operator under the NASCAR Rule Book Section 10.5.2.6 (Loss or separation of an improperly installed tire/wheel from the vehicle). But Scott Miller, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition, said during an appearance Tuesday morning on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that each case of a lost wheel would be considered before ruling it a safety violation.

“That’s always a hard call for us, right?” Miller told SiriusXM. “We’re still we’re continuing to look at that incident, and really the potential consequence for the wheel rolling down pit road. Now if that thing would have been going twice as fast as it was, we would have had a whole field on pit road, we may view that different than we did with hardly any cars on pit road, no speed to the tire, and it not getting away very far. So we always have a very difficult job sorting through what crosses the line and what doesn’t, and we’re still working through that on that particular case.”

Joe Gibbs Racing and its 23XI Racing affiliate had just swapped members of the pit crew for both teams ahead of the Atlanta event, all in an effort to shake up the team chemistry for both over-the-wall groups.

No other infractions were listed on the penalty report, which included the reinstatement of one crew member in the Xfinity Series. The NASCAR membership of Kase Kallenbach was restored, with officials stating that “Kallenbach has successfully completed the terms and conditions mandated for reinstatement.” Kallenbach was listed as the crew chief for the No. 6 JD Motorsports Chevrolet for the first 12 Xfinity Series races of the year.