NASCAR overhauls its system for issuing penalties

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NASCAR has overhauled its deterrence procedures for at-track inspections, focusing on penalizing teams during a race weekend for minor infractions rather than waiting a few days.

Moving away from a six-tier penalty system that had been in place since 2014, NASCAR now will prioritize containing infractions to the race weekend on which they occurred.

Most penalties that once fell on the P1-4 scale and were administered on the following Tuesday or Wednesday now will be dealt with during the race weekend.

The severity, timing and recurrence will determine when penalties are issued, but violations involving such parts as radiators, exhaust headers sway bars, shock absorbers, truck arms, hubs, pinion angle shims, and bump stops could fall under those that could be dealt with at the track.

Among the potential penalties at track: loss of hard cards, loss of practice time, loss of pit selection, rear of field, green-flag pass through and green-flag stop and go.

NASCAR also has eradicated the written warnings that teams received for more than two failures of its Laser Inspection Stations (LIS). A cumulative total of four warnings would have led to the loss of pit stall selection.

Under the new rules, failing inspection twice or more could lead to at-track penalties.

Penalties that rose to the previous level of a P5 or P6 still will be issued after the event. NASCAR has rebranded them L1 and L2 penalties. Among the infractions that fall under those categories: certified chassis, fuel storage, gear ratios, minimum weight and height, traction control, telemetry, electronic fuel injection, fuel additives, tires, illegal testing and fewer than 17 lug nuts.

NASCAR will continue to monitor lug nuts after a race, ensuring teams have all 20 safe and secure on their cars’ wheels. If a team has 17 or fewer lug nuts, it’s an L1 penalty with a three-race crew chief suspension and a $65,000 fine. For 18 lug nuts, a team receives a $20,000 fine and a one-race crew chief suspension. For 19 lug nuts, a $10,000 fine is issued.

The inspection process also is being tweaked. The opening inspection of a race weekend will focus only on fuel systems, engines and safety components.

During prequalifying and prerace inspection, a more rigorous check will be made of fuel systems, engines, safety components, chassis, templates and weights and measurements.

A failure at a station will necessitate a car correcting the problem at its garage stall and then returning to the first station for full inspection (regardless of whether previous stations had been passed; a change from the previous policy).

Points leader Elliott Sadler clinches Xfinity playoff spot after finishing third at Bristol

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Even though he hasn’t won this year, Elliott Sadler earned himself a spot in the Xfinity Series playoffs Friday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Sadler is the fourth driver to qualify for the playoffs. He joins Ryan Reed, William Byron and Justin Allgaier, who clinched spots through race wins.

The JR Motorsports driver and the series points leader finished third in the Food City 300 for his ninth top five of the year.

“Man, we had a great car,” Sadler told NBCSN. “I hit the wall with like 50 to go. Then I threw my water bottle out and it got in the jack man’s way, messed us up. We’re peaking at the right time.”

Sadler has led the Xfinity Series point standings for the last 10 races and following 20 of the 22 races this year.

Following Sadler in the top five is William Byron (-110), Allgaier (-136), Brennan Poole (-186) and Daniel Hemric (-206).

Brendan Gaughan is on the playoff bubble. He is 43 points above the cutoff line. Ross Chastain is 13th on the playoff grid.

Click here for the point standings.

Results, stats for the Xfinity Series race at Bristol

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Kyle Busch won the Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway for his fifth Xfinity Series win of the year.

He led 186 laps and swept all three stages.

Completing the top five were Daniel Suarez, Elliott Sadler, Ty Dillon and Justin Allgaier.

Click here for full results.

Kyle Busch wins Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway

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Kyle Busch once again dominated a NASCAR race at Bristol Motor Speedway, winning Friday night’s Food City 300.

Busch led 186 laps on the way to the win, his fifth Xfinity Series victory of the season.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver fended off the field in a nine-lap shootout following a late caution.

The top five was completed by Daniel Suarez, Elliott Sadler, Ty Dillon and Justin Allgaier.

Busch moved one step closer to a sweep of the race week. He won Wednesday’s Camping World Truck Series race. If he wins Saturday’s Cup race, it will be the second time he’s swept all three Bristol races after doing it in 2010.

Just like Wednesday, Busch fought through the field after a mid-race speeding penalty to earn the win.

“At least I didn’t have to come through (the field) in the last stage because everybody was pretty fast there tonight in the last stage,” Busch said. “I don’t know if I would have been able to make it all the way back up through there. Suárez gave us a heck of a run there. I was trying to push hard and he was closing in on us a little bit there before that last caution came out. Once that caution came out everything cooled down and my car wasn’t even close to what it was before, so I don’t know how I held on to it. The car was just so sideways.”

The win is Busch’s 91st in the Xfinity Series.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Kyle Busch

STAGE 2 WINNER: Kyle Busch

MORE: Race Results

MORE: Points standings

WHO HAD A GOOD NIGHT: Allgaier led twice for 75 laps and earned his sixth top five of the season … Sadler led once for 15 laps and clinched a spot in the playoffs … Ty Dillon earned his second top five of the season and beset finish in 19 starts … Joey Logano bounced back from a flat tire and going to two laps down to finish ninth.

WHO HAD A BAD NIGHT: Ryan Reed and Aric Almirola wrecked on Lap 25 after they pinched Spencer Gallagher on the backstretch. Almirola finished 38th. … Reed caused the following caution after damage from the previous wreck cut a tire, sending him into the wall. Reed finished 37th … Brendan Gaughan had one unscheduled pit stop for a tire rub. He was then involved in a crash with 15 to go after being tagged by Jeb Burton, who had lost a tire. He finished 30th … William Byron lost a tire with less than 10 to go and had to pit. He finished 22nd.

NOTABLE: With his win, Busch is nine wins away from reaching 100 Xfinity wins. Busch has said he’ll retire from Xfinity competition once he reaches 100 … Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 13th in his first Xfinity start of the year.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “Two weeks in a row. I know he doesn’t have a lot of race and I like him a lot normally, but right now I’m going to knock the hell out of him. The first time he gave me a flat and the second time he says he blew a tire. If you know you’ve got a tire going then don’t drive underneath somebody. The last couple of weeks I’ve been driven with no respect. We put ourselves back in a decent spot and we’re going to go to Road America and win that sucker.” – Brendan Gaughan after his late wreck with Jeb Burton.

NEXT: Johnsonville 180 at Road America at 3 p.m. ET on Aug. 27 on NBC.

Starting lineup for Cup night race at Bristol

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Erik Jones and Kyle Larson will start on the front row of the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway (coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC).

Jones starts from his first Cup pole.

Completing the top five are Kasey Kahne, Chase Elliott and Matt Kenseth.

Click here for the starting lineup.