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Hamlin confident in interim crew chief Wheeler

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 1, 2014 at 11:26 am •  Published: August 1, 2014
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LONG POND, Pa. (AP) — Denny Hamlin said he'll use this week's suspension of his crew chief as motivation to prove his car can go fast "no matter what."

Joe Gibbs Racing crew chief Darian Grubb and car Wesley Sherrill were both suspended through the Sept. 6 race at Richmond. Grubb, the crew chief, was also fined $125,000. Team engineer Mike Wheeler will fill in as the crew chief.

It strips Hamlin of two vital crew members during the stretch of the season he would be putting the finishing touches on preparations for NASCAR's title-deciding, 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. Hamlin said the punishment could be a positive because Grubb can spend more time at the shop working on cars.

Hamlin's car failed post-race inspection Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway because NASCAR said it found issues with several of the covers in the rear firewall of the driver compartment. Loose or missing covers could vent the driver compartment and create more downforce for the car. Grubb and Sherrill, who also each received six months' probation, are not eligible to return until the Chase opener on Sept. 14 at Chicago.

"Well, you use stuff like this as motivation to go out there and prove that you can run fast no matter what and you can run well," Hamlin said Friday. "We were on a run there, last really month and a half to two months, that I feel like our cars were really starting to turn the corner."

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