NASCAR: Ryan Blaney won't have crew chief for the second round of the playoffs after Bristol wheel mishap

·2-min read

Ryan Blaney will be missing his crew chief and two other crew members for four of the final seven races of the NASCAR Cup Series season.

Blaney’s crew chief Jonathan Hassler was suspended along with tire changer Zachary Price and jackman Graham Stoddard because of a wheel that came off Blaney’s car during Saturday night’s race at Bristol.

Blaney was forced to pit for a flat tire within the first 100 laps of the race and had to come to pit road under green. As his team changed all four tires on the car, Blaney left his pit stall without the left rear wheel fully attached and the wheel continued down pit road after Blaney stopped and turned around to get back to his pit stall.

The mishap cost Blaney a bunch of time and also damaged the car. He was able to keep racing after the team made multiple repair attempts and ended up finishing 30th after starting sixth.

NASCAR announced before the season that any driver that loses a wheel would have three crew members suspended for four races. The suspensions came after NASCAR implemented a single lug system for its new 2022 Cup Series car. The previous iteration of Cup car had five lug nuts for each wheel.

Kevin Harvick had a wheel come off his car after the final pit stop sequence of the night but didn't drive very far away from his pit stall before his team realized what happened and reattached the wheel. While the mistake cost Harvick a chance at the win and potential advancement in the playoffs, no crew members for Harvick were suspended on Tuesday.

The suspensions also mean that Blaney won’t have his crew chief or the other two pit crew members for the entirety of the second round of the playoffs. Blaney is currently ninth among the 12 drivers still racing for the title ahead of races at Texas, Talladega and the Charlotte Roval. The top eight drivers in the playoff standings after the second round will move on to the third round and Blaney’s crew members are eligible to return for the Oct. 23 race at Homestead.

BRISTOL, TN - SEPTEMBER 17: Ryan Blaney (#12 Team Penske Menards\Pennzoil Ford) leaves a trail of sparks into turn 3 during the running of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Bass Pro Shops  Night Race on September 17, 2022 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, TN. (Photo by Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Ryan Blaney's car was damaged after his left-rear wheel came off after a pit stop on Saturday during the NASCAR Cup Series race at Bristol. (Photo by Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)