Joe Gibbs is not happy about the penalty Kyle Busch received in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

Joe Gibbs is the owner of Joe Gibbs Racing, and he has responded to Kyle Busch’s penalty in a surprising way.

Joe Gibbs

Getty Kyle Busch’s punishment has prompted a response from Joe Gibbs.

During the April 3 race at Richmond Raceway, NASCAR officials black-flagged Kyle Busch’s No. 18 for tape on the grille, forcing him to execute a pass-through penalty and knocking him out of contention for the victory. Joe Gibbs, the team’s owner, has now replied.

During Denny Hamlin’s post-victory news conference, Gibbs spoke with members of the media. He said that he has not yet spoken with NASCAR authorities regarding the penalty’s timing, but that it is in his plans. The timing of the punishment, he claims, hampered Busch’s run since authorities waited more than 200 laps to announce the penalty. The tape was applied to the No. 18 on Lap 126, according to the crew.

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“I believe the objective was, if it was a penalty, handle it,” Gibbs said at the post-race news conference. “It wasn’t until two stops later that I realized what had happened.” That, I believe, is our worry, since it would radically alter their approach. So I believe that’ll be something we’ll have to talk about and go through.”

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The penalty was handed on Lap 345 of the planned 400, long after the crew had applied the tape to the grille. NASCAR’s official reason was that the delay was due to a thorough camera inspection to ensure that Busch had not merely picked up some track debris.

Busch’s team misplaced the tape, according to officials.

Mike Joy, Clint Bowyer, and Chad Knaus had talks throughout the race concerning the penalty and the timeliness of the NASCAR officials’ decision. Analyst Larry McReynolds also chimed in, explaining that the pit crew had intended to place the tape in a another spot, avoiding a penalty.

“I spoke with NASCAR. “Yes, he’s been flagged,” McReynolds said. “It seems that they intended to place it over the brake duct.” Remember how much we’ve been hearing about brake shake? It was supposed to go over the brake duct, but it ended up going over the grille aperture.”

Regardless of purpose, Busch’s ability to compete was harmed by the punishment. He was on track for a top-five finish or a victory, but he lost crucial places while serving the penalty. On Lap 351 he slid from sixth to a lap behind the leaders. After picking up four new tires during his pass-through penalty, Busch was able to claw his way back up to ninth overall.

Promising performances have been derailed by two late-race issues.

Busch and the No. 18 crew had a late-race problem in the race at Richmond for the second week in a row. Due to a spin on the last lap at Circuit of the Americas, he also slipped out of the top ten.

After battling his way back from a Chase Elliott-caused spin in Stage 1, the event happened. He was in position for his second top-five finish of the season until he spun leaving the esses (Turns 3, 4, and 5). He fell to 28th overall after this spin and another later in the lap.

Despite the spins at Circuit of the Americas, Busch remained in the playoff picture, and he moved up a position following the race at Richmond. After seven races, he sits in tenth place overall, comfortably over the elimination line.

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