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Did NASCAR just take Denny Hamlin Out of the Chase with Huge Penalties?


On Thursday afternoon NASCAR announced some pretty big fines and penalties! Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) and the team of Sprint Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin would be fined for failing post race inspection following the running of the Brickyard 400. The good news for Denny Hamlin fans is that he probably still has just as good of a shot as winning the Sprint Cup Championship as any of the other driver heading into the Chase races.

The fines were place on the No. 11 car team, out of the JGR garage, for a violation involving the car's firewalls which created extra down force for the car. The main issue for me is that fact that a piece of the car involved in keeping the driver safe was involved. That's probably why NASCAR hit the team with the fines and penalties.

THE FINES AND PENALTIES

  • Crew chief, Darian Grubb, has been suspended for the next six Cup races.
  • Crew chief, Darian Grubb, has been placed on probation for the six months.   
  • Crew chief, Darian Grubb, has been fined $125,000.
  • Car chief, Wesley Sherrill, has been suspended for the next six Cup races.
  • Car chief, Wesley Sherrill, has been placed on probation for the six months.   
  • The No. 11 team has been stripped of 75 owner championship points.
  • The No. 11 team has been stripped of 75 driver standing points.

Does this hurt Hamlin in the Chase?

Yes it hurts... and No it does not hurt. Here's why. First - Denny Hamlin is one heck of a driver and he's still going to be in cars from the Joe Gibbs Racing Garage. It's not like Hamlin will be driving for a start and park team. And yes, having your crew chief and car chief away from the pits for six races is always going to be a big deal. However; it's not one that can't be overcome. Both will be back with Hamlin just as the Chase starts.

Also, the fines and penalties are for the regular race season and do not have real bearing on the Chase races, other than a break in continuity for a few weeks leading into the chase. You could almost think of it as if either Grubb or Sherrill were out for major surgery or a broken leg or something and couldn't come to the track. Only this is better because the two will not take 6 races off and go play golf. They will still be well aware of everything that goes on with the No. 11 team.

Lastly - Hamlin has a win on the season so according to NASCAR's own rules... he's in the chase by having a win. The penalties did not void his victory.

Image: Rob Carr/Getty Images

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