NASCAR Makes Major Changes To Penalty System

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NASCAR has made a number of changes to its penalty system. (NASCAR Photo)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – NASCAR officials have announced major changes to its penalty system, including replacing the P1-through-P6 penalty system.

The goal of the changes is to implement a system that penalizes pre-race infractions within the same race weekend.

The system replaces the previous penalty system of P1 through P6 with a new structure that classifies penalties as either Level 1 or Level 2. Both penalty levels include point deductions and crew chief or team member suspensions that increase based on the level of severity.

Should a minor infraction be discovered prior to a race, teams and crew members will be disciplined from a list of penalty options available to NASCAR officials. They could include a loss of practice time or a loss of laps at the start of a race.

In addition, NASCAR will also require teams to pass all four inspection stations consecutively. If a team fails a station, they must return to their garage stall and fix the issue, then run through each inspection station again until the team passes all four.

Additional details regarding the updated penalty system are below:

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.

LIS infractions discovered after Coors Light Pole 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 – a rules concept introduced before the Monster Energy Series’ playoffs last year – 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 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.