NASCAR issues four-race suspension to Kyle Busch’s crew chief for wheel coming off

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NASCAR issued four-race suspensions each to Kyle Busch‘s crew chief, Adam Stevens, along with tire changer Jacob Seminara and tire carrier Kenneth Barber for a tire rolling off Busch’s car early in Sunday’s race at Dover International Speedway.

They will miss races at Pocono, Michigan, Sonoma and Daytona. They’ll be eligible to return July 8 at Kentucky Speedway.

Joe Gibbs Racing stated it will not appeal the penalties. Engineer Ben Beshore will serve as acting crew chief for the No. 18 team in place of Stevens. Anwar Parrish will serve as the rear tire carrier, and Adam Hartman will serve as the rear tire changer.

NASCAR also issued the same penalty to Chase Briscoe‘s crew chief, Mike Hillman Jr., along with tire changer Wesley McPherson and tire carrier Eric Pinkiert for a tire rolling off in the Camping World Truck race last weekend at Dover.

They will miss races at Texas, Gateway, Iowa and Kentucky. They’ll be eligible to return July 19 at Eldora Speedway.

Brad Keselowski Racing issued a statement: “We are disappointed in the penalty that Mike Hillman Jr. and members of our pit crew received following the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event in Dover. We are currently considering our options under the appeal process outlined in the NASCAR rulebook. Buddy Sisco will serve as Chase Briscoe’s crew chief in the interim.”

Kyle Busch’s pit crew did not attach the left rear wheel before Busch left his pit stall early in Sunday’s race at Dover International Speedway. The wheel soon rolled off the car.

That incident happened two days after Brad Keselowski Racing’s team failed to properly attach the left front wheel on Chase Briscoe’s truck before he exited pit road. The wheel soon rolled off.

Section 12.5.2.6.3.c of the Cup and Truck rule books state: “Loss of wheel(s) due to improper installation will result in a mandatory minimum four Race suspension of the crew chief, tire changer and tire carrier of the lost wheel(s).’’

Section 12.5.2.6.3.a of both rule books also state that “safety violations will be handled on a case-by-case basis.’’

The day after the wheel came off Briscoe’s truck at Dover, team owner Brad Keselowski said a four-race suspension to his crew chief, tire changer and tire carrier would be severe and sought a lesser penalty.

“I think when it comes to issues like this, I try to always step back and see it from a bigger picture and I hope NASCAR does as well,” Keselowski said. “At the end of the day intent matters. The intent of the rule was to make sure guys don’t put three lug nuts on and have a wheel come off and say, ‘Awe, too bad’.

“That isn’t what happened in the scenario we had. So I think the rule’s intent maybe covers something that didn’t happen. It was a mistake. And we discussed those scenarios. It’s the difference between murder and manslaughter. Intent matters. Certainly, we’re glad that nobody got hurt or there wasn’t any of those types of issues. It doesn’t excuse that kind of stuff. It’s tough scenario for me personally because as an owner over there, we somewhat pride ourselves in not using Cup driver and Cup pit crews and all those things.

“What I’m looking for out of that endeavor and that series is to develop people and give back to the sport. It’s not really giving back to the sport if I put a Cup driver in or hire a Cup pit crew. That’s really not giving back to the sport at all. But on the flip side when you have issues like we had, which is a pit crew that is still developing and inexperienced … they made a mistake. When you have an issue like that which endorses a penalty, that is as costly as that one is according to the current rule, you have to step back and ask yourself, ‘If I had a Cup pit crew, would that have happened?’ And the answer is probably ‘No’.

“So I think the penalties in those series have to be reflective of what they are, they’re developmental series. That was a developmental issue. A guy who really learned a tough lesson. If the penalty is very severe, very harsh, that’s the end of developmental pit crews for my team. We can’t take that. We can’t afford that and that will have serious ramifications for the series and the ability to develop people. It’s a tough question. It’s a tough box that NASCAR is put in to try and enforce rules that are pretty much black and white. They have a tough call to make that will have serious ramifications both in the series we compete and but also as a precedent for all three series.”

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