Appeal panel decides to uphold suspensions for No. 11 team

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Sean Gardner | Getty Images

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

The three-member panel met Wednesday to hear the organization’s appeal, and the panel later confirmed that the No. 11 team violated Section 10.5.2.6 of the NASCAR rules. This topic covers separating an improperly installed wheel.

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Sean Gardner |  Getty Images
Sean Gardner | Getty Images

The safety breach occurred May 2 during the rain-delayed wrap-up 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 came off 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 appeal, and the trio was in place for Cup Series events in Darlington and Kansas for the past two weeks.

As part of Wednesday’s decision, the panel amended the original sanction to make those suspensions effective for the next four ticketed Cup Series events – if the decision is not appealed. Initial suspensions had included this weekend’s NASCAR All-Star Race exhibit at Texas Motor Speedway as one of the four races. The penalty is now scheduled to cover races in Charlotte (May 29), Gateway (June 5), Sonoma (June 12) and Nashville (June 26).

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

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

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

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