Those darn loose wheels. NASCAR has issued penalties to Denny Hamlin and AJ Allmendinger after last weekend’s Dover race. The penalty for losing a wheel during a race is pretty harsh. However, NASCAR wants to prevent it from happening, given how dangerous it can be to go from four to three wheels at 180+ MPH. Both the No. 11 and No. 16 were hit this week.
The teams are going to have four-race suspensions issued to each crew chief as well as each team’s front-tire changer and jackman. That’s not what drivers want at this point in the season. Especially a team like Hamlin’s that has won a race but failed to really breakthrough.
So, NASCAR issued the penalties for Denny Hamlin’s team. Meaning that crew chief Chris Gabehart, jackman Derrell Edwards, and front-tire changer Blake Houston will sit out for four races. Tough break. Especially for the team that set the NASCAR record for the fastest two-tire change ever recently.
For the No. 16 team and Allmendinger, Matt Swiderski, Jonathan Willard, and Keiston France were suspended. His team was also hit with a penalty from the Xfinity Series after an unsecured lug nut was noted in post-race inspection. Crew chief Bruce Schlicker was hit with a $5,000 fine.
There have been a few instances of these loose wheel penalties this season. However, the penalties aren’t nearly as harsh as what Brad Keselowski went through for an unauthorized change to a stock part. That cost his team 100 points in the series standings.
Another Xfinity Series driver was hit with a wheel-related penalty as well. Sam Mayer is losing three crew members including his crew chief for a similar issue. Secure. Your. Lug. Nuts. That’s all NASCAR is asking of Denny Hamlin and others to avoid penalties.
NASCAR Penalties Aren’t Going to Help Denny Hamlin
With the Next Gen car, NASCAR has penalties set up to make sure that veterans like Denny Hamlin don’t have a huge advantage. Redesigning the car made everyone start from scratch. It also made the competition more intense. Leaving it up to the talent of the drivers, the mechanics in the garage, and the crew chief and his pit crew.
This season, crew chiefs have been very important. If Denny Hamlin thought things were difficult before, then the next four weeks are not going to be much fun. Not to mention the fact that Joe Gibbs Racing has revolutionized their pit stops. It has led to record-breaking tire changes and stops.
With one win on the year, Hamlin has something to point at as “Hey we did it right before.” Now, with the added penalties, things just get harder for the next month. It starts this weekend with Darlington. Is this a race that Hamlin is going to excel in? Maybe. Only time will tell.