NASCAR has fined the crew chiefs of all three Joe Gibbs Racing teams $50,000 after the #11 of Denny Hamlin, the #18 of Kyle Busch and the #20 of Joey Logano were presented for technical inspection with parts not previously approved by NASCAR.
The violation concerned new oil pans that had been added to all three cars, which were heavier than their regular parts and therefore could help lower the centre of the gravity of the cars when racing. There is no actual specific weight stipulation on oil pans in the rulebook, but NASCAR reserve the right to review and approve all parts on team cars before they are used at an event.
The parts were detected at Michigan International Speedway on Friday morning before practice, and all the non-approved parts were replaced for their regular equivalents prior to any on-track activity.
However, NASCAR were still unhappy that Joe Gibbs Racing had attempted to get the parts into the race without formally submitting them to officials for proper inspection and authentication.
As well as the fines, Mike Ford (crew chief for Hamlin), Dave Rogers (crew chief for Busch) and Greg Zipadelli (crew chief for Logano) were placed on NASCAR probation for the rest of the year.
Rogers had already been fined
$25,000 the previous week for a different technical infringement when the #18 was found to be too low on its left front quarter after the Pocono race. Fortunately he was not put on probation for that violation or else the sanctions for this week's non-approved oil pans could have led to a far more serious penalty for him, possibly even a multiple race suspension that would serious affect Kyle Busch's season. As well as the fine for Rogers, Busch was docked six championship points and JGR six owners points last week.
In addition to the penalties levied against the crew chiefs over the irregular oil pans, the car chiefs of all three cars - Chris Gillin, Wesley Sherrill and Jason Shapiro - were also placed on probation until December 31, as was the JGR Senior Vice President of Racing Operations Jimmy Makar.
The NASCAR statement read:
All three of the Joe Gibbs Racing cars were found to be in violation of Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4-J (any determination by NASCAR officials that the race equipment used in an event does not conform to NASCAR rules detailed in Section 20 of the NASCAR rule book, or has not been approved by NASCAR prior to the event); and 20-5.5.4A (oil pan, failure to submit component) of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rule Book.
Hamlin won Sunday's race at Michigan - his first victory in 2011 - while Kyle Busch came third for the second consecutive week despite all the various off-track distractions.