CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — NASCAR on Monday suspended three critical crew members for Denny Hamlin’s team because a piece of tungsten fell off his car on the pace lap before the Coca-Cola 600.

 

 

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 24: A crew member stands on the grid with a mask of Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx #SupportSmall Toyota, during the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24, 2020 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

 

The tungsten is required to meet minimum weight requirements on the car and the NASCAR rule book states if it is separated at any point it is an automatic four-race suspension for the crew chief, car chief and engineer.

Chris Gabehart, the crew chief, was suspended along with car chief Brandon Griffeth and engineer Scott Simmons.

Joe Gibbs Racing said it would not appeal the penalty and already had roster replacements for Wednesday night’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Sam McAulay will be the crew chief, while Eric Phillips will be car chief and Scott Eldridge the engineer.

 

 

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 17: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, and crew celebrate winning the NASCAR Cup Series 62nd Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 17, 2020 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

 

 

NASCAR’s next four races are at Charlotte, Bristol, Atlanta and Martinsville between Wednesday night and June 10, when the suspension ends. NASCAR is trying to squeeze in eight postponed Cup events from a 10-week suspension for the conavirus pandemic.

The piece of ballast added to the car weighs 35 pounds and costs $1,877 from the supplier. It fell off the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota before the start of Sunday’s race and Hamlin went to pit road for additional weight to be added back to the car. He didn’t join the race until eight laps had been completed.

 

 

DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA – MAY 20: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Delivering Strength Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the rain-shortened NASCAR Cup Series Toyota 500 at Darlington Raceway on May 20, 2020 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

 

He rallied to a 29th-place finish in the 40-car field.

Hamlin won not only the season-opening Daytona 500 but also won last Wednesday night at Darlington Raceway.

 

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