Monday, September 20, 2021

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Mike Wheeler to fill in for Darian Grubb at Joe Gibbs Racing

Following the suspension levied down by NASCAR, Joe Gibbs Racing has announced that Mike Wheeler will be the intern crew chief. Wheeler is currently the lead engineer on the No. 11 FedEx Toyota, having been with Joe Gibbs Racing since 2002. A Graduate of Kettering University, Wheeler will hope to keep the No. 11 team on track to keep them in the top 30 in points so they can qualify for the Chase for the Championship.

NASCAR announced on Tuesday that crew chief Darian Grubb and car chief Wesley Sherrill would be suspended for the next six races, among other penalties, after being found in violation of the rulebook during post-race inspection. Per NASCAR, Grubb and Sherrill broke Section 12-4.5 A (9) of the 2014 NASCAR rule book, which states, “Approved parts that fail or are improperly installed to fail in their intended use of great importance (e.g.; rear wheel well panels that fail and allow air evacuation in the trunk area; oil box cover that fails and allows air evacuation in the driver compartment; shifter boot cover that fails and allows air evacuation through the floor pan)”.

Per NASCAR’s full explanation of the rulebook in their press release, the infraction violated the following:

12-1 – Actions detrimental to stock car racing;
20-2.1 – Car body must be acceptable to NASCAR officials and meet the following requirements:
·         K – Any device or ductwork that permits air to pass from one area of the interior of the car to another, or to the outside of the car, will not be permitted. This includes, but is not limited to, the inside of the car to the trunk area, or the floors, firewalls, crush panels and wheel wells passing air into or out of the car;
·         L – All seams of the interior sheet metal and all interior sheet metal to exterior sheet metal contact point must be sealed and caulked. This includes, but is not limited to, floors, firewalls, wheel wells, package trays, crush panels and any removable covers;
20-3.4 – All references to the inspection surface in sub-section 20-3.4 have been determined with the front lower edge of both main frame rails set at six inches and the rear lower edge of both main frame rails set at eight inches. For driver protection, all firewalls, floors, tunnels, and access panels must be installed and completely secured in place when the car is in competition;
20-3.4.5 – A rear firewall, including any removable panels or access doors, constructed using magnetic sheet steel a minimum of 22 gage (0.031 inch thick), must be located between the trunk area and the driver’s compartment and must be welded in place. Block-off plates/covers used in rear firewalls in place of blowers, oil coolers, etc., must be constructed of 22 gage (0.031 inch thick) magnetic sheet steel. Block-off plates/covers must be installed with positive fasteners and sealed to prevent air leakage. Carbon fiber or aluminum block-off plates/covers will not be permitted.

Joe Gibbs Racing released a statement after NASCAR’s announcement, stating that they are appealing the penalty, but will have their crew chief and car cheif begin their suspension this week with the race at Pocono Raceway.

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