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NASCAR suspends Hamlin crew chief Grubb six races

Published: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 10:21 a.m.áCST

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) —áNASCARásuspended DennyáHamlin’sácrew chief and car chief on Tuesday for six races because the Joe Gibbs Racing entry failed inspection following his third-place finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Darian Grubb and Wesley Sherrill were both suspended through the Sept. 6 race at Richmond. Grubb, the crew chief, was also fined $125,000.

It stripsáHamlináof two vital crew members during the stretch of the season he would be putting the finishing touches on preparations foráNASCAR’sátitle-deciding, 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. Grubb and Sherrill, who also each received six months’ probation, are not eligible to return until the Chase opener, Sept. 14 at Chicago.

JGR said in a statement it will appeal the penalty, but Grubb and Sherrill will begin serving their suspensions immediately. UnderáNASCARárules, suspended competitors can compete until the appeal process is complete, but delaying sitting out would extend the suspensions into the Chase should JGR not get portions of the penalty overturned.

Also,áHamlináand team owner Joe Gibbs were docked 75 points apiece in the driver and owner standings. It droppedáHamlináfrom 11th to 21st in the Sprint Cup standings. But, as a race winner already this season,áHamlináis likely guaranteed a spot in the 16-driver Chase field.

Hamlin’sácar failed post-race inspection Sunday becauseáNASCARásaid it found issues with several of the covers in the rear firewall of the driver compartment. Loose or missing covers could vent the driver compartment and create more downforce for the car.

The penalty was considered a P5 infraction under the scaleáNASCARáimplemented this season. It clearly defines penalties and their punishments on a P1 to P6 scale.

Penalties found post-race are subjected to an additional 25 point deduction and an increase of the fine by up to $50,000 than if they would have been found before the race.áNASCARáhas deemed a P5 penalty so serious, it does not consider intent.

“P5 penalties, in general, are extremely serious,” the rule book states. “They represent other key safety areas not mentioned elsewhere in this (penalty) section and potentially performance-related areas of the car that might or might not afford a competition advantage, but with a violation occurring in such a fashion that it would be naive to attribute the violation to an accident, omission, or misunderstanding, even if it was an accident, omission, or misunderstanding.”