NASCAR Appeals Panel Upholds Suspensions Against Justin Haley’s Kaulig Racing No. 31 Team

by Caitlin Berard
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Part of what makes NASCAR events so exciting to watch, besides the stock cars hurtling around a track at hundreds of miles per hour, is the fact that there’s always a chance of the unexpected. No NASCAR race is complete without a wreck or other mishap, whether it involves one driver or several.

And at this year’s Daytona 500, NASCAR driver Justin Haley experienced such an incident when one of the wheels detached from his No. 31 Chevrolet. This resulted in heavy suspensions for the NASCAR Kaulig Racing team behind Justin Haley. After the incident, crew chief Trent Owens and crew members Jacob Nelson and Marshall McFadden were given four-race suspensions each.

The reasoning behind the suspensions was a violation of Section 10.5.2.6 of the NASCAR Rule Book: “Loss or separation of an improperly installed tire/wheel from the vehicle.” Though the team appealed the penalty, they were denied, the NASCAR appeals panel standing behind their initial decision.

The penalty was a major blow to the Kaulig Racing team. However, they decided not to move forward with a final appeal. “We respect NASCAR’s decision on the appeal,” said Kaulig Racing president Chris Rice. “We will take the penalty, move on, and work hard to be better.”

Corey LaJoie’s No. 7 NASCAR Team Faces Similar Suspensions to Justin Haley

Justin Haley’s No. 31 team isn’t the only one currently facing a Section 10.5.2.6 violation. Corey LaJoie’s No. 7 team was handed suspensions matching those of Kaulig Racing after last weekend’s Ruoff Mortgage 500. During the first stage of the race, Corey LaJoie hit the wall and lost a wheel, resulting in the driver taking both a DNF result and last place.

His team attempted to appeal the suspensions as well, to no avail. Unlike Kaulig Racing, however, Corey LaJoie didn’t accept NASCAR’s decision without complaint. In an interview on SiriusXM, LaJoie voiced his frustrations regarding the penalties.

“We’re still trying to figure out what happened,” LaJoie said. “Because it’s a big blow to us if NASCAR lays the hammer down. The rule was put in place to deter the crew chiefs from hitting three lug nuts, or two lug nuts, on the money stop.”

“There was way too many penalties and way too many conversations we had about lug nuts, cutting threads, lug lengths, and all this stuff that teams were fooling around with trying to find two, three-tenths [of a second] during a pit stop,” the No. 7 driver continued. “The rule was made to deter crew chiefs from telling the tire changers to hit three and send it because it made the pit stop a second faster.”

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