NASCAR AMERICA: Wednesday Round-Up Includes Denny Hamlin Interview (VIDEO)

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Wednesday was a big news day in NASCAR, and NASCAR AMERICA hit the key topics as Denny Hamlin weighed in on the large penalties assessed to his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing team and Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s new crew chief for 2015 was named.

Hamlin joined the NASCAR AMERICA crew to discuss the penalty that was dealt to his team after the Brickyard 400. Hamlin’s crew chief and car chief were suspended for six races and he was docked 75 points in the Chase. Hamlin says the penalties will force him to be even more focused on race day.

The NASCAR AMERICA crew analyzed the points penalty,  suspension, and fine of the team’s crew chief Darian Grubb, as Hamlin’s car did not have its rear firewall block-off plates sealed off Sunday at the Brickyard 400. The penalty is ranked a P5 penalty on NASCAR’s new penalty ranking scale (with penalties ranked from P1 as the lowest and P6 as the highest).

In the wake of the penalties assessed to the No. 11 car, Joe Gibbs Racing plans to appeal. The team had three cars finish in the top four at the Brickyard 400, but the celebration was halted as Hamlin and his team were penalized after his car failed a post-race inspection. Kyle Petty and Jeff Burton believe the punishment is fair, but would like more consistency on these decisions from NASCAR.

Meanwhile the announcement Greg Ives will take over as Earnhardt Jr.’s crew chief from 2015 on the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports entry was the biggest new news from Wednesday. The NASCAR AMERICA crew believes Ives is ready to handle the pressure of working with NASCAR’s most popular driver. Ives replaces NBC Sports-bound Steve Letarte.

Gabby Chaves to sub for Joao Barbosa at Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen

Photo: IndyCar
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Gabby Chaves is set to return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen International later this month.

The Columbian-American driver, who last competed in IMSA in 2016 – with the DeltaWing outfit – will sub for the injured Joao Barbosa – he hurt his wrist in a cycling accident earlier in June – in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.

Chaves will partner Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Cadillac.

Chaves expressed gratitude for being asked to fill in, but kept his enthusiasm muted, noting that he is getting the opportunity ultimately because another driver got hurt.

“The first thing is of course that you never want to have an opportunity because someone got hurt, so this is an unfortunate circumstance with Joao having his injury,”said Chaves. “But I appreciate the opportunity to join the championship-leading team. Mustang Sampling Racing has had a strong start this year and hopefully I can help the team continue to have those kinds of results.”

Chaves added, “I love Watkins Glen, it is a great track and I am looking forward to racing the Cadillac Prototype there. I’m excited to be going back to endurance racing. With different classes all racing at the same time, there is a lot for the driver to deal with as you work through traffic. So I am looking forward to racing at the Glen again, and I really appreciate this opportunity with Mustang Sampling Racing.”

Chaves’ most recent IMSA event was the 2016 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, when he finished seventh in the Prototype class.

The No. 5 Action Express Cadillac currently sits tied with the sister No. 31 Whelen Engineer Racing Cadillac of Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr atop the IMSA standings, though Barbosa’s hopes of a driver’s championship are set to take an enormous hit with him missing Watkins Glen.

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