NASCAR announced Tuesday that Kyle Larson's crew chief Cliff Daniels has been suspended for the next four Cup Series races after an improperly installed wheel came off of Larson's car at Sonoma earlier in June. Larson will now be without Daniels from Nashville to New Hampshire in mid-July.
During the final round of green flag pit stops at Sonoma, the right front wheel fell off Larson's car as he was making his way uphill into Turn 2, rolling out into the infield and causing the final caution of the race. Larson was able to limp back to the pits on three wheels and salvaged a 15th place finish.
The loss of a wheel was a violation of Safety Section 10.5.2.6 of the NASCAR rulebook, leading to a suspension for Daniels as well as two crewmembers, Donnie Tasser and Brandon Johnson. As of Wednesday morning, Hendrick Motorsports has yet to announce an interim crew chief for Larson.
Daniels becomes the latest crew chief to be suspended over the loss of a wheel, a problem which has become more common this season with the adoption of a single lug nut for wheels on the Next Gen car. Other drivers to have lost their crew chiefs over this issue include Denny Hamlin, Bubba Wallace, Justin Haley and more.
After a historically dominant 2021 season that saw Larson and Daniels pair to win 10 races and the Cup Series championship, Hendrick Motorsports' No. 5 team has not been as successful in 2022. Larson has just one victory this season at Fontana, and he currently sits seventh in points with six top fives and eight top 10 finishes.
In addition to the penalty assessed to Hendrick Motorsports' No. 5 team, another major penalty was handed out by NASCAR to Rick Ware Racing's No. 51 team. After their car failed pre-qualifying tech inspection four times at Sonoma, Rick Ware Racing and driver Cody Ware were docked 20 owner and driver points. Ware remains 32nd in the Cup Series points standings with the penalty, the last among drivers who have run all 16 races this season.