Why NASCAR Stripped Denny Hamlin of His Win at Pocono

Joe Gibbs Racing did not file an appeal of its disqualifications from Sunday’s NASCAR race at Pocono before Monday’s deadline, indicating that the Toyota team will the loss of a race win and runner-up finish for drivers Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch.

The disqualifications, the first for a technical infraction by a Cup Series race winner since 1960, came as a result of what NASCAR described yesterday as an illegally-placed material on the heavily-regulated nose of the car. In an interview with SiriusXM Monday afternoon, NASCAR official Scott Miller added that the violation consisted of additional layers of vinyl over the lower portion of the front fasciaeffectively altering the shape of the nose past legal limits imposed by the series.

When the ruling came down, NASCAR had indicated that the disqualification will be the only penalty the teams face. Both Hamlin and Busch are already all but locked into the NASCAR postseason and the loss of those finishes effectively only robs the pair of playoff bonus points, so JGR may have decided not to escalate a process that could distract the team for relatively little reward as they prepare to fight for a championship.

The disqualification also means that Hamlin is back down to 48 wins, moving him back down to 16th all time after briefly moving into a tie with Tony Stewart for 15th yesterday. Conversely, Chase Elliott has picked up his 17th career win. Elliott found that out after leaving the track yesterday and did not seem particularly excited about the news.

Update: In a statement, Joe Gibbs Racing confirms that the issue stemmed from pieces of tape underneath the car’s wraps. The teams states that the installation of those parts was the result in a miscommunication, with the team not recognizing a planned change in build specifications for this week’s race. The full statement from JGR competition director Wally Brown is below.

“In our review of the post-race infractions on the 11 and 18 cars at Pocono it was discovered that a single piece of clear tape was positioned over each of the lower corners of the front fascia ahead of the left-front and right-front wheel openings on both of those cars. The added pieces were 2 inches wide and 5 1/2 inches long with a thickness of 0.012 inches and installed under the wrap. it is against NASCAR’s rules. We apologize to everyone for this mistake, and we have made changes to our process to ensure that it does not happen again.”

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