Tha Sports Junkies 101

Adam Stevens Suspended 4 Races



What a difference a season makes for powerhouse NASCAR team Joe Gibbs Racing. At this time a year ago, they had 7 wins among all 4 drivers. Fast forward to 2017, and through 13 races they have yet to find victory lane. On top of this slump, Adam Stevens, crew chief for Kyle Busch, is now suspended for the next 4 races. Also suspended from the 18 team are one of the tire carriers and a tire changer. These suspensions are due to a botched pit stop from this past weekend in Dover.

While Kyle Busch was leading early on in Sunday’s AAA 400, he came in for a routine pit stop. During this integral stop, the air wrench gun on the left rear malfunctioned. This caused the tire to have no lug nuts attached to its hub. When Kyle left pit road, the tire became detached, rolling into the infield grass.

Per a new NASCAR rule initiated last year, the penalty for a tire becoming detached on a race track because of improper placement is a 4 week suspension for the crew chief, tire changer, and tire carrier.

Lug nuts were a topic of much controversy during the 2016 NASCAR season. Certain race teams began installing only 2 or 3 lug nuts on tires during pit stops, rather than all 5. Some drivers saw this as a safety concern, forcing NASCAR to implement a new policy with harsher penalties. 1 loose lug nut in post-race inspection now costs the crew chief a $10,000 fine. Multiple infractions result in steeper penalties and suspensions. This weekend’s Truck and Cup Series races were the first time since the new rule when a tire came off of a vehicle on track. Adam Stevens and his crew members on the 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team are the victims of this circumstance.

Coincidentally, in Friday’s Camping World Truck Series race, a similar incident occurred. Chase Briscoe’s 29 Brad Keselowski Racing team also had a failed pit stop, where the driver left the pit box before all lug nuts were tightened. The left front tire came off while on track, resulting in a penalty for crew chief Mike Hillman Jr and 2 of his crew members.

NASCAR announced prior to this season that they would enforce their rules much more harshly, with a lesser gray area in terms of penalties and suspensions.  This has been proven true on numerous occasions, whether it’s due to inspection failures, pit road speeding, or other rule violations. These penalties given out to Adam Stevens and Mike Hillman Jr are entirely within the rule book. The gray area in NASCAR is no more. Every call now is black-and-white, no misstep goes unnoticed throughout a race weekend.