Joe Gibbs Racing Teams Penalized for Illegal Splitters in NASCAR Race at Michigan

Teams of Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Erik Jones were fined and car chiefs suspended after inspection issue for the 2018 FireKeeper Casino 400.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 - Practice
Sean Gardner—Getty Images

Three of the four Joe Gibbs Racing teams—the No. 11 of driver Denny Hamlin, the No. 18 of Kyle Busch, and No. 20 of Erik Jones—were penalized after Sunday’s rain-shortened FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Those penalties, resulting from front splitters that didn’t conform to NASCAR rules, included suspensions for car chiefs, according to NASCAR’s weekly penalty report, released Tuesday.

Car chiefs Brandon Griffeth [11], Nate Bellows [18], and Jason Overstreet [20] were each suspended from the next Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. After a weekend off, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returns to action June 24 at Sonoma Raceway in California. That race will be the first road-course race of the 2018 season.

Also, crew chiefs Mike Wheeler [11], Adam Stevens [18], and Chris Gayle [20] were fined $25,000 for the infractions. JGR has announced it will not appeal the penalties.

The splitter issues were discovered during pre-race inspections Sunday. After changes were made, all three cars dropped to the back for the start of the race. Each of the three affected cars qualified in the top-10 on May 8, with Kyle Busch qualifying third, Jones eighth, and Hamlin 10th. All three drivers got into the top-10 at some point in the race that was shortened from 200 to 133 laps. Busch finished in the top-five, slotting in at fourth.

Busch is the Cup Series regular-season points leader, 15 races into the 36-race season with four wins, trailing only Kevin Harvick’s five-win tally but leading Harvick in points by 75. He trails Harvick in playoff points by one—25 to Harvick’s 26.