Team Penske is appealing the four-race suspension to Ryan Blaney’s No. 12 team members for the wheel that came off at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Until the appeal is settled, the suspensions have been deferred. As such, Blaney’s crew chief Jonathan Hassler, jackman Graham Stoddard, and rear tire changer Zachary Price will be allowed to participate in this weekend’s race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Sunday is the start of the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, in which Blaney is still eligible. Blaney begins the round seeded eighth.
The left-rear wheel came off Blaney’s Ford Mustang Saturday night at Bristol. During a lap 92 caution, Blaney pitted because of a flat right-front tire. Upon leaving his pit stall, the team realized the wheel was not tight, but as Blaney slowed down, the wheel came off and rolled down pit road. It rolled into Austin Dillon’s pit stall and appeared to knock the jack off the wall.
The miscue was the start of a long night for Blaney and company. The flat tire damaged Blaney’s car, and he fell multiple laps down. He even went behind the wall for repairs but finished the race and survived to advance in the playoffs.
A wheel coming off a car triggers a four-race suspension. There have been 12 Cup Series teams penalized for the infraction this season, and if the appeal is upheld, Blaney’s team would be the 13th.
Over the summer, NASCAR officials began allowing some leeway if a wheel comes off on pit road. There have been drivers who started to leave their pit stall and had the tire fall off but, if caught quickly, escaped penalty.
After New Hampshire, Blaney’s teammate Austin Cindric was penalized for his wheel coming off and rolling down pit road. However, Christopher Bell’s team was not penalized after Atlanta Motor Speedway as NASCAR deemed the wheel from the No. 20 cars did not impact others on pit road.