Sunday, July 30, 2017 2:20 pm
Gibbs defends decision to suspend rival team crew members
DAN GELSTON |Associated Press
LONG POND, Pa. – Joe Gibbs said he never considered disciplining Kyle Busch's crew chief for his role in a confrontation with another team's crew.
Gibbs was in a unique position this week when he suspended two crew members for Furniture Row Racing. The FRR members of driver Martin Truex Jr.'s team were each suspended for three races because of the verbal altercation with crew chief Adam Stevens. JGR provides the pit crew for FRR as part of a technical alliance, giving them the authority to suspend members of a competing driver's team.
FRR had front tire changer Chris Taylor and rear tire changer Lee Cunningham suspended.
Busch and Truex crashed while racing for the lead last week at Indianapolis, which led to the altercation.
Cunningham egged on Stevens on pit road after the accident, saying, "Tell Kyle way to go." Taylor used profanity when he screamed at Stevens to get out of his team's box.
Gibbs defended the decision to only discipline FRR's crew.
"Because of their actions and what they did," Gibbs said Sunday at Pocono Raceway. "The video didn't capture everything that happened there."
He declined to specify other circumstances that sparked the argument. Busch, won the pole Sunday at Pocono, defended his crew chief.
"I think it was pretty poor reporting by much of everybody with the TV cameras and such by cutting it short. Obviously there was some instigation going on, Adam didn't feel that was all that necessary and wanted to make sure that those employees knew that, knowing that they were JGR in-house employees," Busch said. "They wouldn't have done that if they were in-house Furniture Row employees, so it was just the nature of what all was going on there and who the people were and who they were associated with."
Gibbs also weakened a fellow Toyota driver and one of the top teams in NASCAR, while he kept his crew intact. Gibbs denied the decision had anything to do with giving JGR a competitive advantage.
"I think people are always going to say all kinds of things," he said. "I don't think you can worry about that. Obviously, they'll be back. I think that's one of the best pit crews on pit road."
Gibbs also said FRR had been fine with the working arrangement that let them use JGR crew members.
"I just know that right now they've chosen to do this," he said. "This is what they want to do. And the partnership."
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