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NASCAR, Joe Gibbs Racing disclose what led to disqualification

NASCAR and Joe Gibbs Racing revealed Monday what led to the disqualification of the cars of Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch after Sunday’s Cup race at Pocono Raceway.

NASCAR stated that “extra layers of vinyl” on the lower fascia of the cars were the culprit.

The lower fascia is the bottom part of the car’s nose. It attaches to the splitter.

Wally Brown, director of competition for Joe Gibbs Racing said in a statement Monday afternoon that “a single piece of clear tape was positioned over each of the lower corners of the front fascia (of the cars of Hamlin and Busch) ahead of the left-front and right-front wheel openings on both those cars. The added pieces were 2 inches wide and 5 ½ inches long with a thickness of 0.012 inches and installed under the wrap.”

Brown went on to say in the statement: “This change in our build process was not properly vetted within our organization and we recognize it is against NASCAR’s rules. We apologize to everyone for this mistake, and we have made changes to our processes to ensure that it does not happen again.”

Brad Moran, managing director of the Cup Series, said Sunday night that the alterations “affect (the) aero of the vehicle.”

Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, spoke more about the penalty Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio after Joe Gibbs Racing did not file an appeal before the deadline. Chase Elliott is the winner of Sunday’s race, while Hamlin is credited with finishing 35th and Busch is credited with finishing last in the 36-car field.
NASCAR stated Sunday night that the issue was found in post-race inspection. That is when NASCAR removes a portion of the car’s wrap during the teardown. Series officials do not remove a car’s wrap in pre-race inspection because that would force the team to reapply the wrap after inspection.

Miller explained the post-race inspection procedure at the track.

“Our procedures to take the first- and a second-place car and a random car, sometimes a random, sometimes not, and do that post-race teardown on them,” Miller said. “The top five cars all go through an inspection process, back through the OSS and make sure it’s correct. … The top five cars are always inspected, but the top two go through the complete teardown at the racetrack.”

SiriusXM NASCAR Radio host Dave Moody asked Miller about putting Elliott’s car through the complete at-track teardown once it became clear that the top two cars would be disqualified.

“Its inspection was completed, and I’m not even sure if that (team’s) transporter was still on the premisses when we did that. That car’s inspection was completed in the top five inspection.”

Miller also said NASCAR would not inspect the Joe Gibbs Racing cars of Christopher Bell, who finished fourth, and Martin Truex Jr., who finished seventh.

“That ship has sailed,” Miller said. “It’s one of those deals where we can’t inspect the entire field at that level of scrutiny or we’d be there until about Wednesday or Thursday.”

David Wilson, president of Toyota Racing Development, issued a statement about the disqualifications.

“Toyota and TRD are disappointed with the disqualifications that came at the end of Sunday’s Pocono Cup Series race,” Wilson stated. “However, as we’ve stated throughout the Next Gen process, we applaud NASCAR’s hyper-vigilance when it comes to policing the rules on this new race car. We have been in close communication with Joe Gibbs Racing and they have acknowledged that the tape added to the front facia’s of the #11 and the #18 was not permissible by NASCAR’s rules.

“We stand by the team’s decision not to appeal the disqualifications and also continue to stand by NASCAR’s efforts to keep the playing field fair for everyone competing in the series.
A key issue with NASCAR’s penalties is that the infractions to the cars of Hamlin and Busch were found at the track, leading to the disqualification.

NASCAR penalized Brad Keselowski and Roush Fenway Keselowski 100 points each, fined crew chief Matt McCall and suspended McCall four races for modifying a single-sourced supplied part. That infraction was found at the NASCAR R&D Center. NASCAR does not issue disqualifications for infractions found there since those inspections are typically done a day or two after the race.