Hamlin Loses Crew Chief, Two Others For Four Races

Denny Hamlin's crew chief, car chief and engineer have all been suspended for four races after a piece of ballast weight fell from his race car prior to Sunday's Coca-Cola 600. (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images Photo)
Denny Hamlin is in the midst of the best season of his NASCAR career and he has a real shot at winning the NASCAR Cup Series title. (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images Photo)

CONCORD, N.C. – NASCAR has handed down a harsh punishment to the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota team after some ballast weight came free from the race car on the pace laps prior to Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Crew chief Chris Gabehart, car chief Brandon Griffeth and engineer Scott Simmons have each been suspended for the next four NASCAR Cup Series points events as punishment for the weight coming loose.

Denny Hamlin was scheduled to start Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 from the 13th position, but was forced to visit pit road before the race began when the ballast weight came loose from his car and fell onto the track.

It took Hamlin’s crew eight green flag laps to repair his car before sending him back out onto the race track. He eventually finished the race in 29th position, seven laps behind race winner Brad Keselowski.

Joe Gibbs Racing has announced they will not appeal the penalty. Sam McAualy will serve as the team’s crew chief for the next four races. Eric Phillips will act as car chief and Scott Eldridge will work as the team’s head engineer beginning with Wednesday’s Alsco Uniforms 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The penalty against the No. 11 team is in line with similar previous incidents. In 2018 a piece of ballast weight came free from Daniel Hemric’s Richard Childress Racing Xfinity Series entry at Dover Int’l Speedway, resulting in crew chief Danny Stockman Jr., car chief Clint Almquist and engineer Luke Mason all being suspended for four races.