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RFK Racing Won’t Appeal Loose Wheel Penalty After All

The No. 17 NASCAR Ford Mustang of Chris Buescher lost a wheel after it was insufficiently tightened at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 3rd, 2024. Buescher’s race car was wrecked and his team was subsequently penalized, resulting in suspensions of critical pit crew members. Initially, RFK Racing, the team that fields the No. 17 Mustang, indicated that it would attempt to appeal the suspensions, but according to a report from NASCAR.com, it has dropped all intent to fight the penalty.

As outlined in Sections 8.8.10.4 A&C (Tires and Wheels; Loss or separation of an improperly installed tire/wheel from the vehicle during the event) in the NASCAR Rule Book, two crew members from the No. 17 NASCAR Ford team are to be suspended from two Cup Series events. This includes jackman Nicholas Patterson and front tire changer Jakob Prall, although both team members were on the roster for the March 10th race at Phoenix.

So, why issue an appeal only to abandon it one week later? RFK Racing part-owner, Brad Keselowski, said that he just wanted to buy some time to give the replacement crewmembers a chance to acclimate to their roles.

“To bring in a new tire changer, a jackman, it’s a major undertaking,” Keselowski said. “These guys are really good. They’re highly skilled athletes. Most of them are college athletes that have played for quite some time, and by the nature of where the race teams are, we don’t carry a depth chart of people that you wish you could carry. It’s expensive. And so, you’d like to have as much time as possible to bring somebody up to make sure you don’t have the same problem again.”

He added, “You want to have an extra week of practice of working out whoever that new guy is going to be, and the jitters that they might have before they jump over the wall in front of 100 thousand-some fans and a car that’s moving 50, 60 miles an hour.”

Travis Juedes (front tire changer) and Samuel Wright (jackman) will work on the No. 17 NASCAR Ford crew this weekend at Bristol. Both crewmembers have worked on a pit crew this year, serving the same roles for the No. 60 Mustang of David Ragan at Daytona.

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Alexandra is a Colorado-based journalist with a passion for all things involving horsepower, be it automotive or equestrian.

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