NASCAR Updates Penalty Rules
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on February 16, 2017 | 4:40 P.M. EST
Pre-race infractions found during inspection could carry punishment applied to that weekend’s race. (Photo: Getty Images)
NASCAR announced a change to its penalty system across all three national series for 2017.
Teams were informed of the changes in a series of additions to the NASCAR rule book Thursday afternoon.
The officiating system will now focus on the current race weekend and not rely on imposing infractions or penalties in future events as was done in the past.
The previous P1 through P6 penalty system will be replaced with more streamlined guidelines that include significant punishment for infractions in the P1 and P2 levels.
Pre-race infractions found during inspection could carry punishment applied to that weekend’s race ranging from loss of practice time to starting the race a lap behind.
"Our goal was to be able to, more like football or basketball or any sporting event to where we could officiate and police within the event," Elton Sawyer, NASCAR Vice President of Officiating and Technical Inspection told NASCAR.com. "I think the real message is that we want to get these infractions, the smaller infractions, we want to get them corrected at the race track.
"It's very similar to a 15-yard penalty. If you can get three 15-yard penalties and you can still win the game or drive down and score a touchdown, then good for you. If we can issue these penalties and you lose pit selection or you start at the back or a drive-through (penalty), and you can still come back and win the race, well then we feel like what that infraction was, the penalty fits the crime."
The NASCAR rules bulletin included these new policies:
The penalty structure for violations that rise to the L1 or L2 level were unveiled, subject to enforcement at the following event(s): L1 penalties concern areas of minimum heights and weights, the Laser Inspection Station (LIS), gear ratios, and flagrant lug nut violations where 17 or fewer are properly secured. L2 penalties involve more egregious infractions concerning tampering with the three "no man's land" technical areas of tires, engine and fuel. Major safety violations, the use of telemetry or traction control, plus breaches of the testing policy also fall under the L2 designation. Penalty options for all three NASCAR national series call for the deduction of 10 to 40 points for L1 violations and 75 points for L2 infractions.
In the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, L1 penalties call for crew chief or team member suspensions for 1 to 3 races, plus a $25,000 to $75,000 fine. L2 penalties in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series come with a six-race suspension and fines ranging from $100,000 to $200,000.
The disciplinary action is scaled back in the other two national series. In the NASCAR XFINITY Series, L1 penalties will result in the same one- to three-race suspension range, but with fines from $10,000-$40,000. L2 violations in XFINITY events also come with a six-race suspension guideline, but a $50,000-$100,000 range for fines. In the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, L1 penalties carry a one- or two-race suspension with fines from $5,000 to $20,000. L2 infractions will result in a four-race suspension with monetary penalties of $25,000 to $50,000.
Specific penalties were outlined for lug-nut and LIS violations in the Monster Energy Series. LIS infractions discovered after qualifying will result in a team's time being disallowed. Post-race, the violation falls under an L1 heading with a three-race crew chief suspension, a $65,000 fine and the loss of 35 championship points. Teams with one improperly attached or missing lug nut post-race are subject to a $10,000 fine. That fine doubles and includes a one-race suspension for the crew chief if two lug nuts are improperly attached or missing. If three or more lug nuts are in violation of the rules, the penalty rises to the L1 level with three-race suspension for the crew chief, a $65,000 fine and the deduction of 35 championship points.
"Encumbered" finishes will remain in effect this season for post-race L1 and L2 violations. The rules allow a victory to stand in the event of an infraction, but a winning team will be stripped of the benefits associated with the win.
The list of pre-race penalties within a race weekend at the series directors' disposal, in order of increasing severity: Loss of annual "hard card" credential, loss of practice time, loss of pit selection position, tail of the field penalty, a green-flag pass-through on pit road after the initial start, a green-flag stop-and-go in the pits after the start, and lap(s) penalty.