After losing a left rear wheel in last Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover, Kyle Busch’s No. 18 team was handed a stiff penalty from NASCAR on Wednesday, which will leave Busch without his crew chief and two pit crew members for the next four races.
Just 19 laps into the AAA 400 at Dover, Busch made his way down pit road for routine service under caution, but that’s when everything went wrong for his Joe Gibbs Racing team. Before any of the lug nuts were tightened on the left rear wheel, the jackman dropped the jack, giving Busch his signal to go, which he did. As expected, the wheel fell off of the car shortly after leaving pit road, forcing Busch to limp his Toyota back to pit road to get the wheel replaced and the damage incurred as a result fixed.
Under sections 10.9.10.4.c (Tires and Wheels) and 126.96.36.199.3.c (Minimum Safety Penalty Options), Busch’s crew chief Adam Stevens, rear tire carrier Kenneth Barber, and rear tire changer Jacob Seminara, will miss this weekend’s race at Pocono, as well as races at Michigan, Sonoma, and Daytona.
The rules state that “Loss of wheel(s) due to improper installation will result in a mandatory minimum four race suspension of the crew chief, tire changer and tire carrier of the lost wheel(s).”
There was some talk earlier in the week if NASCAR would try and judge intent or stick with the letter of the law, but in the end the sanctioning body went by what was written in the rulebook when handing down the suspensions.
Chase Briscoe, who drives for the No. 29 Brad Keselowski Racing team in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, also lost a wheel in nearly identical fashion to Busch in Friday evening’s Bar Harbor 200. The penalty for Briscoe’s team is the same as the one handed down to Busch, with Briscoe’s crew chief Mike Hillman, tire carrier Eric Pinkiert, and tire changer Wesley McPherson being sent on a four-race vacation as well.
Hillman and the two members of the pit crew will miss this weekend’s race at Texas, along with races at Gateway, Iowa, and Kentucky.
The teams of both Busch and Briscoe will have the chance to appeal the penalties should they choose to do so.