NASCAR has once again caught teams breaking rules on the pit lane. The sport has handed down suspensions to two Cup Series teams for unattached wheels during Sunday's AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400 at Texas Motor Speedway.
NASCAR issues penalties to the No. 3 and No. 51 teams for improperly installed wheels at @TXMotorSpeedway.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 26, 2023
According to NASCAR.com, Nascar penalized the No. 3 Chevrolet from Richard Childress Racing and the No. 51 Ford from Rick Ware Racing. Richard Childress Racing's Josh Sobecki (jackman) and Michael Johnson (rear-tire changer) and Rick Ware Racing's Matthew Sclytter (jackman) and Coleman Dollarhide (rear-tire changer) will have to sit out for the next two races.
Both teams were found to have violated Section 184.108.40.206.C of the NASCAR rule book, which refers to the "loss or separation of an improperly installed tire/wheel from the vehicle during the event."
NASCAR replaced its previous rule for this issue that suspended the offending team's crew chief for four races. The new rule, enacted before the start of the 2023 season, places a two-race suspension for the offending jackman and tire-changer.
Neither team was in much contention during Sunday's race, and the tire problem for Austin Dillon's No. 3 team ultimately cost the driver, as he wrecked out of the event. Dillon admitted to having a loose wheel when interviewed by NBC Sports after being released from the infield care center.
"Yeah, we had a loose wheel," Dillon said in the interview that is quoted in the NASCAR.com story. "It stinks... it's kind of been the way our year has gone. Coming off of Turn 2, it's a little slick there getting up to speed. I didn't really think it was a loose wheel, but it was really loose, which could have given me a little bit of a hint. But I got down into Turns 3 and 4, you can just see the wheel comes off. It's unfortunate."
Now the Nos. 3 and 51 will both head to Talladega and the Charlotte Roval without some of their pit crew members—the price you pay for such a costly mistake on the pit lane. Loose wheels are a danger to drivers, officials and fans and NASCAR has rightly taken a strong stance to alleviate the issue.
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