Denny Hamlin’s crew chief, car chief and team engineer suspended

Photo by Gerry Broome/Associated Press

The team of Denny Hamlin’s No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota will have to make some adjustments over the next month as crew chief Chris Gabehart, car chief Brandon Griffeth and engineer Scott Simmons have been suspended for the next four points-paying races.

The suspensions come after the ballast fell off the car before the start of Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600. The ballast is a piece of tungsten that is used to make sure all the cars are the same weight, which keeps them on the same level playing field. The heavy piece of metal is also used to set the balance on the car.

The weight was struck by other cars on the pace lap, including Aric Almirola.

Hamlin was scheduled to start 13th Sunday night, but had to come down pit road before the green flag dropped to get it fixed. He would be nine laps down before he re-entered the race, and wound up with a 29th-place finish.

The three team members suspended will miss the Cup races at Charlotte on Wednesday, Bristol on Sunday, Atlanta Jun. 7 and Martinsville Jun. 10. JGR will not appeal the suspensions.

The team’s race engineer Sam McAulay will serve as the crew chief, and Eric Phillips will serve as the car chief.

Hamlin currently sits eighth in the point standings, but has two wins on the season already and is locked into the playoffs.

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