Crew chiefs and pit crew members could face multiple-race suspensions from NASCAR under new penalty violation guidelines released by the sanctioning body on Wednesday.
The suspension penalties are directed specifically to the issue of lost wheels and ballast weight which becomes separated from cars during practices and races.
A minimum four-race suspension will be assessed to a crew chief, tire changer and tire carrier for a lost wheel due to improper installation.
A crew chief, car chief and head engineer will receive a minimum four-race suspension for improperly attached ballast falling off the car.
“NASCAR considers such infractions to be very serious in nature and has therefore included pre-determined minimum penalties to address the severity of such violations,” the addition to the NASCAR national series rulebooks read.
“NASCAR further reserves the right to escalate such safety related Penalties to higher Penalty levels when the infraction is considered to be more egregious in nature or displays a higher degree of negligent behavior.”
Three teams this season – one in Sprint Cup and two in the Xfinity Series – have already received penalties for improperly attached weight.
In one of the most serious incident in May at Iowa Speedway, ballast from Ross Chastain’s car fell off during a practice session and struck the hood and windshield of driver Jamie Dick’s car and then hit his helmet.
Dick was not hurt. Chastain’s crew chief, Gary Cogswell, was fined $15,000 and placed on probation through the end of the year.
Under the new guidelines, Cogswell would be suspended four races along with the team’s car chief and head engineer.
NASCAR this season no longer enforces a rule requiring all lugnuts be fastened and tight on a car’s wheel, but in turn did provide penalties for teams who lose wheels on track due to improper installation.
The rulebook additions on Wednesday greatly increased those penalties.