Oil pans in Joe Gibbs' cars unapproved
BROOKLYN, Mich. -- NASCAR officials ordered three Joe Gibbs Racing teams to change oil pans before Friday's practice at Michigan International Speedway.
NASCAR said oil pans from cars driven by Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano were not submitted for approval before opening day inspection. Their practice times were allowed only after the pans were removed.
"I don't know a whole lot about it, to be honest with you. We continue to evolve our cars and things like that throughout the course of a season," Hamlin said. "Usually, when you have something new -- a new part -- sometimes you submit it, sometimes you don't. I feel like this is probably one of the parts NASCAR wants you to submit."
NASCAR says it will discuss early next week if there will be additional penalties. Hamlin is 12th in the Sprint Cup points standings entering Sunday's race and can ill afford a severe sanction.
"We're going to need every point we can get at this stage right now," Hamlin said. "We still have so much time left. We can win races, we can still get into the top five in points, feasibly."
Busch was docked six points Monday and his crew chief was fined $25,000 because his car failed post-race inspection at Pocono Raceway. The No. 18 Toyota was found to be too low during NASCAR's inspection Sunday.
Busch spoke with reporters before Friday's problem with the oil pans was announced, but he clarified last weekend's issue a bit.
"It was in the front springs. We'll see if we can get with the manufacturer and make heat not be an issue," Busch said. "It was something we had wrong and we didn't fit within the rules after the race. Like Joe Gibbs Racing said, we accept the penalty and we'll move forward."
Kurt Busch, who drives the No. 22 Dodge for Penske Racing, said the unauthorized oil pans could be instructive to other teams because rival drivers have a chance to see the removed parts.
"There's always the fun time in the morning as a driver, to go sign in and then peek your head in the door and see what NASCAR has found on race weekends. It sits there, right on that countertop," Kurt Busch said. "It's just open for everybody to see, and now, if you weren't working on that internally, now we have an opportunity to do that."
Tony Stewart, who is in ninth place in the points standings, said hearing about the oil pans made him a bit nervous.
"It makes you cringe a little bit. You realize NASCAR has to keep a tight grip on the rules," he said. "At the end of the day, we're glad we have a sanctioning body like NASCAR that's going to make sure things are the way they ought to be and guys aren't pushing the envelope too far."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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