NASCAR tweaks penalty system yet again

Pick a word, any word. just don’t pick the word “encumbered.”

NASCAR tweaks penalty system yet again
NASCAR official
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford rolling through inspection
NASCAR Official
The car of Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet at techniscal inspection
Monitors convey information from pit road to NASCAR officials
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet inspection

The new word should be “disqualified,” but it won’t be. Even though penalty options have evolved again, shrinking from six levels in 2016 to four last year and now to three categories—L1, L2 and Safety—nothing in NASCAR’s deterrence system provides for a team to be stripped of a win completely.

But the net effect might be the functional equivalent, because the only thing the team will be able to keep is the trophy.

When NASCAR released its first bulletin of the season on Friday, “encumbered” was struck from the Rule Book because the word itself was, well, cumbersome. Teams will still need a chart to decipher changes to the penalty options. But, hey, if teams don’t push the limits, they’ll have nothing to worry about.

All L1 and L2 penalties discovered in pre-race inspection could carry a points deduction and/or suspension and/or fines. In addition to the aforementioned sanctions, L1 and L2 penalties found during the race or in post-race inspection could nullify the benefits of the race finish and consequently “determine eligibility for the Playoffs, Playoff Points in the Playoff seeding, eligibility for advancement in the Playoffs, eligibility for non-Championship Events, tie-breakers and as those tie-breakers may be applied relative to finishing positions elsewhere.

“That finish will not count when determining the Champion and three runners-up in the final Race of the Playoffs.”

An L1 penalty could carry a 10-to-40-point deduction, one-to-three-race suspension for crew chief and $25,000-to-$75,000 fine. A Level 2 penalty results in a 75-point deduction, six-race suspension and $100,000 to $200,000 in fines.

For rear wheel steer infractions in qualifying, the team’s time will be disallowed. Should inspectors discover an illegal rear wheel steer setting in post-race, the team will receive an L1 penalty, including a $65,000 fine, loss of 35 driver and owner points and a three-race suspension for the crew chief. Teams will receive the same L1 penalty if a car is missing three or more lug nuts in post-race inspection. One or two missing lug nuts is considered a safety penalty and carries a $10,000 fine for one and a $20,000 fine and one-race crew chief suspension for two missing lug nuts.

With the introduction of NASCAR’s new team roster policy, Monster Energy Cup teams will be allowed a Competition Director, Technical Director and an IT Support specialist along with 12 road crew members and five pit crew members. Cup organizations that have three to four cars will be allotted an additional IT specialist. Teams will be allowed an additional member for road courses and Indianapolis. NASCAR will monitor the team rosters using RFID chips as well as visual ID’s on hard card. Teams can interchange crew members and as long as they’re listed on the same organizations roster.

Roster violations will be addressed on an individual basis. Should a team exceed the number of personnel on the roster, NASCAR will not only eject that member but will boot an additional team member chosen at the sanctioning body’s discretion. Additionally, the team will not be allowed to replace that member during the course of the weekend.

For at-track penalty options (Rule, each violation will be addressed and enforced at the Managing Director’s sole discretion, without recourse to appeal. Possible penalties include loss of hard card, loss of practice time, loss of pit selection, crew member ejection and starting at the tail of the field. If a team member is ejected from the racetrack, the organization cannot replace that position. If the violation occurs during the race, the team could receive a lap or time penalty, a pass-through penalty or a stop-and-go penalty.

NASCAR Cup Series penalty examples

Safety L1 L2
Failure to comply with Section 20.2.1 related to personal safety clothing/equipment or driver protective
Post-Race incorrect ground clearance and/or body heights measurements. Engine total cubic inch displacement above the maximum allowed or below the minimum required.
Loss of wheel(s) due to improper installation. Post-Race failure to meet minimum weight. Compression ratio on any cylinder above the maximum allowed.
Loss or separation of added ballast from the vehicle. Post-Race identification of 17 or less lug nuts installed in a safe and secure manner. Long block engine and internal components that differ from what is required by the Rules (i.e. original
source if specified, material, alteration if not permitted, etc.) or fail to meet the minimum or maximum requirements (i.e. dimensions, weight, etc.) or fail to meet the configuration requirements
(i.e. location, angle, etc.).
Post-Race identification of one or two lug nut(s) that are not installed in a safe and secure manner. Vehicle fails Post-Race rear wheel steer inspection as outlined in the penalty chart. Unauthorized engine performance enhancement(s) such as nitrous oxide, whether operational or not; air
entering the engine through means other than through the authorized air intake, or through means other than via the restrictor plate or tapered spacer when applicable; intake manifold failing a leak test;
unauthorized pressure systems or components relative to the fuel system, whether operational or not.
Failure to comply with Section related to disabling or removing the incident data recorder (IDR). Unauthorized fuel storage capability aboard the vehicle. Altering or compromising the standard ECU, its software, or its performance.
Compromises to the integrity or effectiveness of any safety elements not rising to a higher penalty. Compromises to the integrity or effectiveness of the following safety elements: fuel cell, fuel cell container, and/or pressurized fuel system components running through the driver's compartment, unless the compromise clearly resulted from Race damage during that Event. Anything which alters or enhances the performance of EFI (Electronic Fuel Injection) beyond the
parameters which the configuration specified in the Rules allows for.
Added ballast and/or ballast affixed improperly (e.g. shape or weight that does not conform to the ballast requirements; added ballast location in the driver's compartment). Major external engine components (i.e. not part of the long block engine) such as intake manifold, engine oil pump, that differ from what is required by the Rules (i.e. original source if specified, material, configuration, alteration in areas not permitted, etc.). Traction control or traction control componentry, whether operational or not.
Failure to properly mark added ballast per section If a vehicle is found with ballast marked
with an organization other than its own, the
violation may be considered more severe.
Parts or system configurations of great importance installed and/or assembled to circumvent the rule book (examples: rear suspension parts mounted and assembled in a manner so as to allow movement that should not otherwise be available, shock absorbers that show evidence of possible unauthorized modification or alteration or have the wrong internal components). Onboard recording, receiving or transmitting devices, computers, telemetry, and so on, not approved in advance by NASCAR, whether operational or not.
  Parts that are not properly installed or are made adjustable when not normally intended to be (e.g. bracing which alters the rear deck lid configuration and, in turn, alters how the rear spoiler is measured during inspection). Effecting, modifying and/or altering the standard tires in any way, other than through authorized means.
  Parts that fail or are improperly installed to fail in their intended use of great importance (e.g. rear wheel well crush panels that fail and allow air evacuation in the trunk area, engine oil reservoir tank encasement cover that fails and allows air evacuation in the driver compartment, shifter boot cover that fails and allows air evacuation through the floorboard). Combustion enhancing additives in the oil, oil filter, air filter element, etc.
  Parts, systems, devices, omissions, or component failures that could have an effect on what should otherwise be the normal airflow over the body of the vehicle and/or required aerodynamic devices such as the rear spoiler, roof air deflectors, etc. (e.g. repositioning a windshield, repositioning the rear window glass, altering the greenhouse, failure to maintain rear spoiler angle, other than due to crash damage, at Superspeedway Events). Effecting, modifying and/or altering the standard fuel in any unauthorized manner.
  Parts, systems, devices, omissions, or component failures that could have an effect on the vehicle’s down force (e.g. unauthorized panels). A violation of the Private Team Testing Policy (See Section 5.1 Private Team Track Testing).
  Mandated transmission gears, final drive gears, transmission and final drive gear ratios, and/or their associated drivetrain components failing to meet the Rules, plus any violation of the Rules governing transmission and final drive functionality, configuration, materials, weights, restrictions and/or prohibitions. Failure to meet the engine seal requirements
  Modifying, altering, repairing or changing a certified chassis unless otherwise permitted under Section Non-Major Repairs, or failing to maintain the integrity of the chassis barcodes/RFID tags and/or security tape, without prior notice to and approval by NASCAR.  
  Anything which alters or affects the certified engine control system wiring harness and/or the certified engine control system wiring sub-harnesses.  
  Failure to submit and receive approval of parts in accordance with the NASCAR Rules.  
  Body panels failing to meet minimum thickness or any indication of acid dipping or chemical milling.  
  Post-Race body measurements outside of the tolerances permitted as outlined in the rulebook.  
  Failure to use parts (pit gun, socket, regulator, air pressure, etc.) exactly as issued by the exclusive pit gun supplier or failure to return parts promptly – within one hour of the finish of the Race.  
  Failing Inspections multiple times per Section 8.7  
  Providing false or misleading frame rail / conical seat X, Y, and Z coordinates  


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