NASCAR has suspended Kyle Busch crew chief Adam Stevens and two of his pit crew members for four races for a wheel coming off Busch's car early in the NASCAR Cup race Sunday at Dover International Speedway.
Joe Gibbs Racing will not appeal the penalty, and race engineer. Race engineer Ben Beshore will serve as acting crew chief for Busch starting this weekend at Pocono and then at Michigan, Sonoma and Daytona.
While there is no doubt the tire came off, the team says it was clearly a mistake and not an attempt to sacrifice safety in order to have a fast pit stop. The Busch pit crew members who will be suspended are tire changer Jacob Seminara and tire carrier Kenneth Barber.
Also suspended for an identical violation was Brad Keselowski Racing crew chief Mike Hillman Jr., tire changer Wesley McPherson and tire carrier Eric Pinkiert after a wheel came off Chase Briscoe's car in similar fashion Friday in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race.
NASCAR created the rule in 2015 when it stopped officiating how many lug nuts on the car were tight. Teams were tightening only three of the five lug nuts, and NASCAR was concerned about loose wheels coming off the cars.
The penalty says "loss of wheel(s) due to improper installation will result in a mandatory minimum four race suspension of the crew chief and the tire changer and tire carrier of the lost wheel(s)."
Keselowski's team released a statement Wednesday saying it is disappointed in the decision and it is still evaluating whether to appeal (teams get 10 days to file an appeal). Buddy Sisco will serve as interim crew chief in place of Hillman this weekend at the truck race in Texas.
NASCAR declined to comment on the penalties and whether it took intent into consideration when determining the sanctions.
Both team owners -- Joe Gibbs and Brad Keselowski -- said at Dover that their teams weren't trying to gain a competitive advantage by leaving lug nuts off, which is what the rule intends to deter.
"Obviously, the rule book, what we're trying to prevent, is somebody going with less lug nuts," Gibbs said Sunday. "That certainly wasn't our case. We were trying to get them on."
Keselowski, speaking Saturday, said intent should matter.
"The issue was not to tighten up three lug nuts and have blistering-fast pit stop," Keselowski said. "It was a mistake. And we discussed those scenarios [with NASCAR]. It's the difference between murder and manslaughter.
"Intent matters. Certainly, we're glad that nobody got hurt or there wasn't any of those types of issues. It doesn't excuse that kind of stuff."