Denny Hamlin’s team hit with big penalties after Brickyard infraction

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After Denny Hamlin finished third in Sunday’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis, NASCAR found some issues with several of the rear firewall block-off plates on Hamlin’s No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

The plates are meant to keep fluids, smoke, and fire from entering the driver’s compartment but if airflow is provided through the plates, it can help the car’s aerodynamics.

Two days later, NASCAR has dropped the hammer on the 11 crew for the post-race infraction, which goes under a P5 penalty in the 2014 NASCAR rule book. The P5 penalty covers:

Approved parts that fail or are improperly installed to fail in their intended use of great importance (e.g.; rear wheel well panels that fail and allow air evacuation in the trunk area; oil box cover that fails and allows air evacuation in the driver compartment; shifter boot cover that fails and allows air evacuation through the floor pan).

Per Section 12-4.5B of the rule book, the minimum P5 penalty includes: A loss of 50 driver and owner’s championship points; a fine of $75,000-$125,000; a six-race suspension; and probation through the end of the calendar year for all suspended members, or for a six-month period following the issuance of the penalty if the period goes across two consecutive seasons.

However, since the No. 11’s infraction was found in post-race inspection, the P5 penalty tacks on an additional docking of 25 driver and owner’s championship points and an additional $50,000 fine.

With all of that said, here’s the damage.

Hamlin’s crew chief, Darian Grubb, has been suspended for the next six Sprint Cup races as well as fined a total of $125,000 ($75,000 under the original P5 penalty plus an extra $50,000 post-race fine). In addition, Hamlin’s car chief, Wesley Sherrill, has also been suspended for the next six Cup races.

NASCAR has also docked both Hamlin and team owner J.D. Gibbs 75 driver and owner’s championship points respectively (50 under the original P5 penalty plus an additional 25 post-race points).

The infraction violates multiple sections of the NASCAR rule book. In addition to the usual “actions detrimental to stock car racing” in Section 12-1, violations include:

Section 20-2.1 – Car body must be acceptable to NASCAR officials and meet the following requirements:

  • K – Any device or ductwork that permits air to pass from one area of the interior of the car to another, or to the outside of the car, will not be permitted. This includes, but is not limited to, the inside of the car to the trunk area, or the floors, firewalls, crush panels and wheel wells passing air into or out of the car;
  • L – All seams of the interior sheet metal and all interior sheet metal to exterior sheet metal contact point must be sealed and caulked. This includes, but is not limited to, floors, firewalls, wheel wells, package trays, crush panels and any removable covers;

20-3.4 – All references to the inspection surface in sub-section 20-3.4 have been determined with the front lower edge of both main frame rails set at six inches and the rear lower edge of both main frame rails set at eight inches. For driver protection, all firewalls, floors, tunnels, and access panels must be installed and completely secured in place when the car is in competition;

20-3.4.5 – A rear firewall, including any removable panels or access doors, constructed using magnetic sheet steel a minimum of 22 gage (0.031 inch thick), must be located between the trunk area and the driver’s compartment and must be welded in place. Block-off plates/covers used in rear firewalls in place of blowers, oil coolers, etc., must be constructed of 22 gage (0.031 inch thick) magnetic sheet steel. Block-off plates/covers must be installed with positive fasteners and sealed to prevent air leakage. Carbon fiber or aluminum block-off plates/covers will not be permitted.

As a result of the 75-point docking, Hamlin now slips from 11th to 21st in the Sprint Cup standings. However, he is still in position to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup thanks to his spring win at Talladega.

In a statement released this afternoon, JGR said it would appeal the Brickyard penalties but that both Grubb and Sherrill will begin serving their suspensions starting with this weekend’s GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway.

Tickets on sale for 2019 IndyCar race at Circuit of the Americas

Alison Narro, COTA
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Tickets are now on sale for the upcoming IndyCar Classic at the Circuit of the Americas March 22-24, 2019 and in grand Texas fashion, the series and track kicked off the sale with appearances by Simon Pagenaud and Colton Herta in San Antonio and Austin respectively.

The CoTA race will be the second race of the 2019 season.

Simon Pagenaud visited the Alamo as part of IndyCar’s announcement of ticket sales for next year’s IndyCar Classic at the Circuit of the Americas (Alison Narro – COTA)

The highly anticipated debut of IndyCar at CoTA adds another marquee event to the track’s schedule along with Formula 1, World Rallycross and the Pirelli World Challenge.

Pagenaud was joined by retired San Antonio Sours player Brent Barry and local businessman Red McCombs as they visited the Alamo and world famous McNay Art Museum.

This will be IndyCar’s first trip to the track, but Pagenaud came within one position of winning at Texas Motor Speedway in 2018. Driving for Team Penske, he started and second behind his teammate Josef Newgarden and finished a season-best second to Scott Dixon.

Pagenaud hopes to add to his current 11 victories after going winless in 2018.

Colton Herta, who will compete for Rookie of the Year honors in IndyCar in 2019, made his presence known in the Gen-X capital of Austin, Texas (Alison Narro – COTA)

After visting San Antonio, focus shifted to Austin where Herta was joined by Jay Frye, President of Competition and Operations at IndyCar and Bobby Epstein, Chairman of Circuit of the Americas.

Herta took to the streets of Austin and visited the Texas State Capitol building as part of his tour.

Herta, who will turn 19-years-old the week after IndyCar visits CoTA, will campaign for Rookie of the Year honors in 2019. He has one previous start in the series at Sonoma this September. He qualified 19th and completed all 85 laps before finishing 20th in the 25-car field.

In 33 starts in Indy Lights competition, Herta has six wins, 20 podium finishes and nine poles.