NASCAR Enhances Penalty Structure

NASCAR

The system starts with warnings (W) issued for very minor infractions, then are grouped into six levels – P1 (least significant) to P6 (most significant). (Photo: Getty Images)

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NASCAR Deterrence System (pdf) | Appeals Flow Chart (pdf)

After a series of high-profile defeats on appeal, NASCAR showed Tuesday it has learned from those cases by strengthening its rulebook and amending the appeal process.

The result is a detailed explanation of what penalties go with what types of infractions.

“The new deterrent system is going to provide a clear path for our competitors to fully understand the boundaries while shoring up some gray areas which may have been in existence,’’ said Steve O’Donnell, executive vice president of racing operations. 

NASCAR announced that it will restructure penalties into six classifications from P1 (least significant) to P6 (most significant) beginning this season.

Lower level infractions (P1 to P3)  - which could include violations such as multiple warnings to the same team, safety violations, unauthorized parts, parts that fail and coil spring violations - could lead to fines or point penalties. 

Higher level infractions (P4 to P6) - which could include circumventing NASCAR templates, unapproved weight, illegal additives, engine violations and modifying the chassis - will lead to fines, suspensions, point penalties and more. If these violations are found in post-race inspection the penalties will increase, including not allowing a win to count toward Chase eligibility.

If a team is penalized for the same infraction during the season, the penalties can be multiplied.

Behavior infractions are handled case-by-case and are not a part of this structure.

“We believe the new system is easily understood and specifically lays out exactly what disciplinary action will be taken depending upon the type of technical infraction,’’ said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development.

Pemberton said that NASCAR will not take away a win from a driver who fails post-race inspection.

“That's always a topic of discussion, and at this point in time we always feel that when the fans leave the racetrack they know who won the race,’’ Pemberton said. “So right now we just will take away that opportunity for seeding or advancement (to the Chase) based on wins if somebody violates the rules.’’

NASCAR also announced changes to its appeal process.

The three-member board will be called the National Motorsports Appeals Panel. NASCAR will have the burden of showing that violation occurred. Also, both sides can submit summaries before the hearing and will be in the room together. Previously, one side presented its case while the other side remained outside the room.

Track operators were among those who served on such panels previously but will no longer do so to avoid a conflict of interest. O’Donnell said “industry experts’’ will serve on the panel and that some members might might come from outside the sport.

Also, Bryan Moss, president emeritus of Gulfstream Aerospace replaces former GM executive John Middlebrook as the final appeals officer. O’Donnell cited Moss’ “strong background in engineering and research’’ as a reason for adding him.

O’Donnell stressed that changes to the appeal process were not made because some penalties were rescinded last year. 

An appeals panel rescinded most of the penalties NASCAR issued to Matt Kenseth and Joe Gibbs Racing after a connecting rod in his winning car at Kansas Speedway was found to be under the minimum weight. That panel featured a Cup track operator, a former Cup car owner who had last had a car run 30 years ago and a short track operator.

Even with that case, the appeals panel has upheld NASCAR’s penalties in about two-thirds of the cases its heard since 1999.

Middlebrook reduced the suspension for seven Team Penske crew members from six races to two after violations were discovered before the Texas spring race. Middlebrook allowed the point penalties and fines to remain.

In 2012, Middlebrook rescinded most of the penalties, including points and suspensions) to Jimmie Johnson’s team for an issue found in opening day inspection at Daytona International Speedway in February but, allowed the $100,000 fine to stand.

Sprint Cup Penalties

P1 Penalties

  • Last choice in pit selection process
  • Track time deductions in practice/qualifying
  • Delay in order of inspection; being selected for post-race inspection
  • Car must remain in hauler for unspecified time at beginning of weekend
  • Temporary suspension of annual credential for team members
  • Community service

P2 Penalties

Loss of 10 driver/owner points and/or fine between $10,000-$25,000 and/or crew chief suspended for one race and probation until the end of the calendar year for the crew chief or six-month span as per rules.

P3 Penalties

Loss of 15 driver/owner points and/or fine between $20,000-$50,000 and/or crew chief/others suspended for one or more races and probation until the end of the calendar year for crew chief/others or six-month span as per rules.

P4 Penalties

Loss of 25 driver/owner points, fine between $40,000-$70,000, and suspend the crew chief for three points races and probation until the end of the calendar year or six-month span. If a P4 infraction is discovered in post-race inspection, NASCAR will take away an additional 10 driver/owner points and increase the fine by $25,000.

P5 Penalties 

Loss of 50 driver/owner points, fine between $75,000-$125,000, and suspend the crew chief for six points races and probation until the end of the calendar year or six-month span for all suspended crew members. If a P5 infraction is discovered in post-race inspection, NASCAR will take away an additional 25 driver/owner points and increase the fine by $50,000 and may include loss of any benefits of the starting or finishing position in the race.

P6 Penalties 

Loss of 150 driver/owner points, fine between $150,000-$200,000, and suspend the crew chief for six points races and probation until the end of the calendar year or six-month span for all suspended crew members. If a P6 infraction is discovered in post-race inspection, NASCAR take away any benefits of the starting or finishing position in the race and deduct the manufacturer points the team earned.

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