Joe Gibbs Racing exec: Team will ensure Denny Hamlin Xfinity penalty ‘doesn’t happen again’

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A Joe Gibbs Racing executive addressed the penalty to Denny Hamlin’s winning Xfinity Series car, saying the team would “make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Crew chief Chris Gabehart was suspended two races and fined $25,000, and the team was docked 25 points because the No. 20 Toyota’s splitter didn’t meet a minimum thickness in its shape after Hamlin’s last-lap victory over William Byron at Michigan International Speedway. NASCAR ruled the win as encumbered, meaning it can’t count toward earning playoff points for the owner’s championship in Xfinity.

JGR senior vice president of racing operations Jimmy Makar said on SiriusXM Satellite Radio’s The Morning Drive that the splitter wasn’t manipulated during the race weekend at Michigan.

“The rules on the Xfinity side say your splitter has to be perfectly flat,” Makar said. “There was some shape on the splitter that didn’t quite meet the rules the way it was supposed to be. It was an unfortunate thing that happened. We were a little off what we were supposed to be. We have to look back at that and how it happened and why and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Makar confirmed the team won’t appeal the penalty.

“The rules are pretty clear,” he said. “It’s something where we were wrong with what we had there. We’ll take our penalty and move forward.”

Makar also addressed the team’s other significant news in the Xfinity news this week, installing Dave Rogers as its technical director. Rogers had been on a personal leave since March from his previous role as the No. 19 crew chief for Daniel Suarez in the Cup Series.

“We are shy on technical expertise in Xfinity and the burden is on the Cup side, so this was an opportunity to put Dave in as the technical director position on the Xfinity side,” Makar said. “It helps bring the Cup side and Xfinity side closer together.

“The way the cars are built and getting that in the Xfinity cars and also teaching younger guys the things they need to know and directions they need to be going. As we develop younger engineers and crew chiefs, this helps them to be more prepared if and when they make their step up on the Cup side.”