Joe Gibbs Racing will not appeal a penalty NASCAR levied Wednesday against Kyle Busch’s crew chief Adam Stevens for violating a lug-nut policy that is only weeks old.
Stevens was fined $20,000 and will miss this weekend’s race at Dover after a lug-nut infraction was discovered after Busch won Saturday night’s race at Kansas Speedway. Busch’s front-tire changer Josh Leslie also was suspended for one race. Both were put on probation through Dec. 31.
In a statement released Wednesday evening, JGR acknowledged the lug nuts on Busch’s Toyota weren’t tightened all the way at the end of Saturday’s race.
“(Busch’s) team utilized unaltered stock lug nuts during Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway and each wheel had all five lug nuts attached to the wheel at the conclusion of the race,” the statement said. “The team does acknowledge that not all lug nuts were tightened to the wheel.”
Sprint Cup series director Richard Buck said the infraction was discovered during postrace inspection, although he didn’t say whether it was found at Kansas or NASCAR’s research and development center in Concord.
Lug nuts also are checked before and during the race with what Buck called “available resources.”
“First and foremost, we have been crystal clear about what the rule states,” Buck said. “It was updated to provide clarity to our teams. And that is that all tires and wheels must be installed in a safe and secure manner.”
The rule change was a result of another change before last season, when new pit-road technology meant there no longer was an official at each pit stall to monitor activities such as lug-nut replacement and tightening.
Some teams weren’t using all five lug nuts, and sometimes the ones that are used haven’t been tightened sufficiently. A pit stop could be quicker if a team chose not to use all five lug nuts.
Owner-driver Tony Stewart called attention to the situation during April, criticizing NASCAR and saying it had become a safety issue. NASCAR fined him $35,000 for his comments.