The pit crew swap between Ty Gibbs and Christopher Bell before the start of the playoffs has not really benefited Gibbs, which was very apparent on Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Gibbs was having a quietly solid day when problems quickly ruined his race. His No. 54 Toyota lost a tire late in the race, which will likely see two pit crew members suspended for the next two races.
The rookie driver's crew was trying to get Gibbs off the pit lane as quickly as possible but let him go without properly installing his tires. As a result of the crew's mistake, Gibbs hit the outside wall hard, causing a caution period with 50 laps to go. On the NBC broadcast, Dale Earnhardt Jr. quickly assumed it was a flat tire issue, which had been an issue for several teams during the race.
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) October 15, 2023
As Gibbs was slowing down after contacting the wall, the wheel came completely off his No. 54 car. NASCAR then held Gibbs for two laps, which is the penalty when a team loses a wheel on the racetrack.
The No. 54 team will likely be without its jackman and front tire changer for the next two races at Homestead and Martinsville. It has been a trying rookie year for Gibbs, but he has still had plenty of strong races this season.
Of all the teams in the NASCAR Cup Series, Joe Gibbs Racing has had a few pit-road issues this year, including previously failing to attach a wheel during a pit stop.
Some NASCAR teams, such as Joe Gibbs Racing, don't seem to be taking rules about properly attaching wheels seriously enough. Maybe NASCAR needs to go back to the very extreme penalty they used to give, which resulted in a four-race suspension for the crew chief.
The answer isn't clear, but it certainly needs to be addressed before a driver, track official or fans get seriously hurt or worse.
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