Crew Chiefs Suspended Four Weeks Over Lost Wheels

Photo by Nigel Kinrade, NKP Photo

By Jerry Jordan, Editor

Two NASCAR teams were hit with a monster penalty for losing a wheel during the race weekend at Dover International Raceway – the 18 of Kyle Busch’s Monster Energy Series team will lose crew chief Adam Stevens until July 3 and the 29 Camping World Truck Series team of Chase Briscoe will lose Mike Hillman Jr. through July 9.

Also booted from participation will be the Jacob Seminara and (tire changer) and Kenneth Barber (tire carrier) on the No. 18 team, as well as, Wesley McPherson (tires changer) and Eric Pinkiert (tire carrier) on the 29 team.

The teams were penalized per the NASCAR rulebook under the section Tires and Minimum Safety Penalty stating, “improperly installed wheel. Wheel came off vehicle following a pit stop.”

According a statement released by Brad Keselowski Racing, they are determining their next step regarding the penalty on the 29 truck team.

“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,” state the release. “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.” 

A spokesperson for Joe Gibbs Racing said the team does not have an official statement but they do not intend to appeal the penalty. Ben Beshore (lead engineer for the 18 team) will serve as acting crew chief.

Crew Chief Adam Steven told Kickin’ the Tires the team made a mistake and would pay for it, following the race Sunday. He was unhappy about it but confirmed the air gun worked “properly.”

“There is nothing wrong with the gun, if you use it properly it tightens the lugnuts,” Stevens said. “It wasn’t used properly.”

Keselowski told media members he intended to talk with NASCAR about the penalty following the incident but said he wasn’t sure how that discussion would go. He did say there was a difference between “murder and manslaughter” and there was no “intent” to not secure the wheel. That said, he added, a major hit to his team would cause him to rethink whether he used the team to develop crew members in the future.

“I think the penalties in those series have to be reflective of what they are, they are developmental series,” Keselowski said. “That was a developmental issue – a guy that learned a very serious lesson. If the penalty is very severe and very harsh that is 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 on the series and the ability to develop people.”

NASCAR also penalized crew chief Matt Beckman on the 19 Xfinity Series crew of Mat Tift a total of $5,000 for a loose lugnut.

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