Team Penske is appealing the four-race suspension of No. 12 Ryan Blaney for a wheel that came off at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The suspension is on hold pending an appeal. Blaney’s crew chief Jonathan Hassler, jackman Graham Stoddard and rear tire fitter Zachary Price will therefore be eligible to race this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.
The round of 16 for the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, in which Blaney is still eligible, begins Sunday. Blaney begins the round seeded eighth.
The left rear wheel came off Blaney’s Ford Mustang Saturday night in Bristol. A caution was issued on lap 92 for Blaney to pit for a flat right front tire. After exiting the pit, the team realized the wheel was loose, but when Blaney braked, the wheel came off and rolled down pit road. It rolled into Austin Dillon’s pit stall and appeared to knock the jack off the wall.
The accident marked the beginning of a long night for Blaney and company. A flat tire damaged Blaney’s car and he fell for several laps. He even went behind the wall for repairs, but finished the race and survived to make the playoffs.
A wheel that comes off the car powers the four-race suspension. This season, 12 Cup Series teams have been fined for breaking the rules, and if the appeal is upheld, Blaney’s side will become the 13th.
Over the summer, NASCAR officials began allowing some leeway if a wheel comes off on pit road. There were drivers who would start out of the pit stall and have a flat tire, but if they were caught quickly, they escaped punishment.
After New Hampshire, Blainey’s teammate Austin Cindric was penalized after his wheel came off and rolled down pit road. However, Christopher Bell’s team was not penalized after Atlanta Motor Speedway, as NASCAR deemed the No. 20 car’s wheel did not touch others on pit road.