CHARLOTTE, N.C. – NASCAR suspended three critical crew members for Denny Hamlin’s team on Monday because a piece of tungsten fell from his car during the tempo round for the Coca-Cola 600.
The tungsten is required to meet the minimum weight requirements for the car, and the NASCAR Rule Book states that if separated at any time, it is a four-race automatic suspension for the crew chief, car chief and engineer.
Chris Gabehart, the chief of crew, was suspended along with auto chief Brandon Griffeth and engineer Scott Simmons.
Joe Gibbs Racing said it would not appeal the fine and that there were already roster replacements for Wednesday night’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Sam McAulay becomes the chief of the crew, Eric Phillips becomes the auto chief and Scott Eldridge the engineer.
NASCAR’s next four races will take place in Charlotte, Bristol, Atlanta and Martinsville between Wednesday night and June 10, when the suspension ends. NASCAR is trying to squeeze eight deferred Cup events out of a ten-week suspension for the conavirus pandemic.
The piece of ballast added to the car weighs 35 pounds and costs $ 1,877 from the supplier. It fell from the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota before the start of Sunday’s race and Hamlin went to the pit lane to add extra weight to the car. He only entered the race after eight laps were completed.
He rose to 29th in the field with 40 cars.
Hamlin not only won the seasonally opening Daytona 500, but also won at Darlington Raceway last Wednesday night.