DARLINGTON, S.C. — Denny Hamlin’s weekend sweep with the Ray Hendrick-themed ‘Flying 11’ colors was handed a double asterisk Wednesday afternoon, as both the No. 11 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team and No. 18 NASCAR XFINITY Series team were penalized for infractions stemming from the race weekend at Darlington Raceway.
NASCAR officials handed Hamlin’s Cup team an L1-level penalty for a rear suspension violation, covered in section 20.14.2 of the NASCAR Rule Book.
As such, crew chief Mike Wheeler was fined $50,000 and suspended for the next two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races, which includes the regular season finale at Richmond Raceway this weekend and next weekend’s playoff opener at Chicagoland Speedway.
Hamlin was penalized with the loss of 25 driver points and Joe Gibbs Racing was docked 25 owner points. Despite the points loss, Hamlin remains fifth in points heading into the Federated Auto Parts 400 on Saturday night.
The win, Hamlin’s second-career Southern 500 triumph, was ruled encumbered and Hamlin will not be able to utilize the five playoff points he earned during the 10-race run to the championship. However, he remains locked into the playoff field by way of his win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July.
Hamlin becomes the second driver in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series to have a win encumbered under the current penalty structure, following Joey Logano’s encumbered win at Richmond back in April.
The No. 18 XFINITY team and Hamlin were penalized under the same section (20.14.2) of the NASCAR Rule Book and received an L1-level penalty for a rear suspension violation after Saturday’s Sport Clips Haircuts-VFW 200 as well.
As such, crew chief Eric Phillips was fined $25,000 and suspended for the next two XFINITY races at Richmond and Chicagoland, the team was docked 25 owner points and Hamlin’s win was ruled encumbered, meaning it will not count towards the team’s pursuit of an owner’s championship.
Additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team was pinged for a safety violation by virtue of loose lug nuts, found after Earnhardt came home 22nd in his final Southern 500 on Sunday night. Crew chief Greg Ives was fined $20,000 and suspended for this weekend’s race in Richmond.
Car chief Travis Mack will serve as interim crew chief for the No. 88 team at Richmond. The Louisville, Ky. native has been the team’s car chief since 2015, serving under Ives.
“We have a tremendous amount of confidence in Travis and everyone on the team,” said Jeff Andrews, vice president of competition at Hendrick Motorsports. “Our people have done a great job all year with the lug nut rule. We won’t dwell on it (the penalty) and will look forward to having Greg back on the box next week at Chicagoland.”
The No. 22 Team Penske XFINITY team was also hit with penalties for a rear suspension violation under section 20.14.2, an L1-level infraction.
Crew chief Greg Erwin was fined $25,000 and suspended from the next two series races, the team lost 25 owner points and Joey Logano’s runner-up finish was encumbered as a result of the violation.
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 23-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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