Denny Hamlin Has 3 Crew Members Suspended 4 Races After Tungsten Fell Off Car

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMay 25, 2020

Denny Hamlin drives during the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway Sunday, May 24, 2020, in Concord, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Gerry Broome/Associated Press

Denny Hamlin will be without three crew members, including crew chief Chris Gabehart, for the next four NASCAR Cup races.

According to the Associated Press (h/t ESPN), NASCAR suspended Gabehart, car chief Brandon Griffeth and engineer Scott Simmons through June 10 because a piece of tungsten fell off Hamlin's car on the pace lap before Sunday's Coca-Cola 600.

The rule book calls for a four-race suspension for those team members if the 35-pound block of tungsten, which is included on the car to help it make the weight requirements for races, falls off. 


.@colepearn, former @JoeGibbsRacing crew chief, offers his reaction to the penalty issued to @dennyhamlin's No. 11 team. https://t.co/CajYYrRlWS

Joe Gibbs Racing will not appeal the suspensions and will use Sam McAulay as the crew chief, Eric Phillips as the car chief and Scott Eldridge as the engineer for the next four races.

It is a testament to Hamlin's racing ability he managed to finish in 29th place in the 40-car field even after the tungsten fell off. After all, he went to pit road following the pace lap and was unable to join the race until eight laps were already completed.

Hamlin was coming off a victory at Darlington Raceway on Wednesday, and he won the Daytona 500 in February.

The 39-year-old fell from fourth place to eighth in the NASCAR Cup Series standings following the Coke 600, which Brad Keselowski won in stunning fashion at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It appeared as if Chase Elliott was going to cruise to victory, but the race went into caution and overtime when Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron spun out.

Elliott's crew chief decided to pit during the yellow, and Keselowski, who stayed out on track, held the field off for his first win of the season.

Hamlin will look to climb up the standings without Gabehart, Griffeth and Simmons, who will miss Wednesday's race at Charlotte as well as Bristol, Atlanta and Martinsville.