NASCAR: Team Penske crew member suspended

NASCAR has suspended Dave Nichols Jr., a tire technician on the #22 Team Penske Ford team of Joey Logano, for one race after Nichols’ involvement in a post-race altercation between Logano and Denny Hamlin on Sunday after the First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

The suspension will sideline Nichols from the Nov. 3 race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Logano and Hamlin exchanged words on pit road after the Martinsville race as the result of an incident with 42 laps remaining in which Hamlin made contact with Logano and sent Logano into the wall and into a spin. Logano recovered to finish the race in the eighth position, while Hamlin finished fourth. Both drivers are among the eight remaining in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs with three races remaining in the 2019 season.

After a heated conversation between Logano and Hamlin, Logano shoved Hamlin, and then, Logano turned to walk away. Hamlin attempted to go after Logano, but Hamlin was restrained by Todd Gordon, Logano’s crew chief.

“We were having a discussion, and everything was civil and then, like Joey does, he gives a little push and runs away,” Hamlin said. “That’s Joey. I mean he said, ‘You want to go?’ I said ‘Yes, I’m here,’ but then,  he runs away.”

Members of Hamlin’s #11 Joe Gibbs Racing team and Logano’s team got involved, and Nichols pulled Hamlin to the ground.

“As we always say, we know emotions are going to run high, especially at this time of the season,” NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell said Monday on “The Morning Drive” show on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “The drivers, we don’t encourage it, but we know that they’re going to address each other after the race when they have an incident, and you saw that happen. Then, unfortunately, instead of kind of breaking up a fight, I think what we saw was an aggressive move by a crew member, so we called the team into the hauler, including Todd Gordon.”

Team Penske Competition Director Travis Geisler, Logano’s crew chief Todd Gordon and Nichols were called to the NASCAR hauler, the sanctioning body’s at-the-track center of operations, after the race.

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