NASCAR specifies driver behavior punishment with rules update

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – NASCAR announced several changes to its behavior policy that will include actions on and off the track and specific penalties for such violations.

Among the changes:

  • Penalizing a driver 50-100 points and/or $150,000-$250,000 fine and/or two-race suspension for “premeditatedly removing another competitor from championship contention in a dangerous manner when not racing for position based on the available evidence and specific circumstances of the incident.
  • A fine and/or indefinite suspension or termination  for “public statement and/or communication that criticizes, ridicules, or otherwise disparages another person based on that person’s race, color, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, age or handicapping condition.”
  • NASCAR members could face a fine and/or indefinite suspension or termination after being charged with or convicted of significant criminal violations (e.g. Domestic Violence, Trafficking, Assault), or having had determinations rendered by criminal or civil authorities that in NASCAR’s judgment necessitate action. NASCAR will not pre-judge guilt or innocence in the criminal or civil legal system, or the guilt or innocence of the Member, but rather review each matter in its own context and circumstances and with regards to its potential effects upon the sport.”
  • NASCAR members would lose 25-50 points and/or fined $50,000-$100,000 fine and/or one race suspension, indefinite suspension or termination for physical confrontation with a NASCAR Official, media members, fans, etc., member-to-member confrontations with physical violence and other violent manifestations such as significant threat(s) and/or abuse and/or endangerment, attempting to manipulate the outcome of a race or championship and intentionally wrecking another vehicle.”

Among the factors NASCAR may consider when reviewing a matter would include: When and where the incident occurred, the perceivable or potential ramifications to others and/or to the sport, member’s past history, possible effects to fans, safety, workers, crew members.

All NASCAR members in the sport’s national series are subject to these rules, whether driver, team owner, crew member or other. The penalties are appealable.

Jim Cassidy, senior vice president, racing operations, said the penalties for intentionally wrecking a competitor is meant to make the rule precise.

“To be clear, this is not an effort to change the way the drivers race today,’’ he said. “NASCAR is an aggressive sport. We understand that drivers are going to be aggressive to race for position.

“That is not going to change. That’s a very significant point. It’s spelled out in the rule and we understand that. We also understand that there are points in time when competitors can cross the line and they should have a better understanding of what exactly may transpire if it’s determined they cross the line.’’

One of Matt Kenseth’s complaints last year about being suspended two races for wrecking Joey Logano during last year’s Chase was that there was not precedent for NASCAR to suspend him for such action, noting officials did not do so to Jeff Gordon in 2012 when he wrecked Clint Bowyer during a Chase race at Phoenix.

The updated policy doesn’t change what NASCAR would do in a situation similar to last year with Kurt Busch but makes it clear.

NASCAR indefinitely suspended Busch last year after a Delaware Family Court Commissioner concluded that “it is more likely than not” that Busch committed an act of domestic abuse against his ex-girlfriend. NASCAR lifted the suspension shortly after the Delaware Department of Justice announced it would not seek charges and Busch completed requirements set by NASCAR.

Also included is how NASCAR will react to negative comments directed toward NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and the series.

“That’s not new,’’ Cassidy said. “We’ve been pretty clear as it relates to taking on the sport versus taking on a call and so what you’ll see that is also part of it. You’ll also see part of it taking on media members, taking on fans, taking on partners. It’s an effort to state entirely what we expect of our members.’’

Cassidy said the changes are intended to better define penalties.

“I would say it’s not do as you see fit,” he said. “Far from do as you see fit. The problem was we didn’t spell it out as clearly as we could. I think the perception might have been do as you see fit. But there’s been a whole lot of thought, process that went into it.

“We don’t want perception that anything is do as you see fit. We are so far from that today as a sport. It’s a good thing for us. It’s a good thing for our competitiors and everyone involved and the fans to understand what’s happening.”

Cassidy said there will remain room for competitors to not agree with each other and avoid a penalty. NASCAR did not penalize Kevin Harvick after he shoved Jimmie Johnson in the motorhome lot after the opening Chase race last year at Chicagoland Speedway.

“You’ll see that spelled out at the beginning, situations like that,” Cassidy said. “There are heat-of-the moment situations that we think … will be situations where competitors work things out themselves and we need not get involved. When we do get involved it could be a conversation, it could be a warning, it could be probation. But in situations where it is that, then you’re probably going to look for us to have the competitors work it out themselves or have us intervene and help them work it out together.”

 

Daytona road course entry lists

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NASCAR’s national series will make their debuts on the Daytona road course this weekend. The Cup, Xfinity and Truck events will be held without any practice or qualifying.

NASCAR is prohibiting drivers from competing in more than one series this weekend on the Daytona road course in an effort to get extra track time. NASCAR states that is to make the event fair for everyone.

Sunday’s Cup race will be broadcast on NBC.

Here are the preliminary entry lists for the races at the Daytona road course 

Cup – Go Bowling 235 (3 p.m. ET Sunday on NBC)

Thirty-nine drivers are entered for the race at the Daytona road course.

JJ Yeley is in the No. 27 for Rick Ware Racing.

Joey Gase is in the No. 51 for Petty Ware Racing.

Gray Gaulding is in the No. 53 for Rick Ware Racing.

Brendan Gaughan is in the No. 62 for Beard Motorsports.

Timmy Hill is in the No. 66 for Motorsports Business Management.

Reed Sorenson is in the No. 77 for Spire Motorsports.

Click here for Cup entry list

 

Xfinity – UNOH 188 (3 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN)

Thirty-eight cars are entered.

Andy Lally is back in the No. 02 Our Motorsports car after finishing fifth last week at Road America.

AJ Allmendinger, who finished second last week at Road America, is in the No. 16 for Kaulig Racing.

IMSA driver Earl Bamber will make his Xfinity debut this weekend in the No. 21 for Richard Childress Racing.

Brandon Gdovic will make his second start of the season, driving the No. 26 for Sam Hunt Racing.

Click here for Xfinity entry list

 

Truck – Sunoco 159 (Noon ET Sunday on FS1)

Thirty-nine trucks are entered in the race that will be held before the Cup event on Sunday on the Daytona road course.

Alex Tagliani will drive the No. 51 for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Click here for Truck entry list

Silly Season Scorecard: Christopher Bell moves back to JGR

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No surprise that Christopher Bell moves over to the No. 20 at Joe Gibbs Racing next season with Leavine Family Racing being sold and Erik Jones not remaining with JGR beyond this season. Joe Gibbs Racing made the announcement Monday.

While JGR lets the 24-year-old Jones, who has 133 Cup starts go, it brings in the 25-year-old Bell who has made 22 career Cup starts. Jones said before Sunday’s race he was “blindsided a little bit” by JGR’s move.

It’s part of the building momentum of Silly Season. In the last week, Team Penske signed Brad Keselowski to a reported one-year extension and Bubba Wallace said he has an offer for next year not only from Richard Petty Motorsports but also Chip Ganassi Racing.

Here’s how the Cup Silly Season scorecard looks as of Aug. 10.

ANNOUNCED CUP RIDES FOR 2021

No. 00: Quin Houff enters the second year of his two-year deal with StarCom Racing.

No. 1: Kurt Busch enters the second year of a multi-year contract that Chip Ganassi Racing announced last season.

No. 2: Brad Keselowski and Team Penske announced a contract extension Aug. 3.

No. 4: Kevin Harvick signed a contract extension in February that will keep him at Stewart-Haas Racing through the 2023 season.

No. 8: Tyler Reddick said in a press conference Aug. 7 that he will be back with Richard Childress Racing next season.

No. 9: Chase Elliott is under contract with Hendrick Motorsports through the 2022 season.

No. 11: Denny Hamlin is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.

No. 12: Ryan Blaney and Team Penske announced a multi-year extension earlier this season.

No. 18: Kyle Busch is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.

No. 19: Martin Truex Jr. is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.

No. 20: Christopher Bell moves from Leavine Family Racing to take over this ride in 2021.

No. 22: Joey Logano is tied to Team Penske “through the 2022 season and beyond.”

No. 24: William Byron is under contact with Hendrick Motorsports through at least 2021.

No. 47: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. enters the second year of a multi-year deal with JTG Daugherty Racing.

No. 88: Alex Bowman will race for Hendrick Motorsports under a one-year contract extension announced earlier this year.

 

Available/possibly available rides

No. 10: Aric Almirola is in a contract year at Stewart-Haas Racing.

No. 13: Ty Dillon is in a contract year at Germain Racing.

No. 14: Clint Bowyer is in a contract year to drive for Stewart-Haas Racing.

No. 21: Matt DiBenedetto is in a contract year at Wood Brothers Racing. He said after the Aug. 9 Michigan race: “I haven’t really talked about that stuff for next year yet, but we’ve just been so focused and head down on digging and trying to make the playoffs and run well. We haven’t even really talked about it, so, hopefully, I stay here for a very long time to come and that’s what they had expressed to me when I came over here.”

No. 32: Corey LaJoie is in a contract year at Go Fas Racing.

No. 42: Matt Kenseth told NBC Sports on Aug. 8 in regards to talks with Chip Ganassi Racing for next year: “We really haven’t had any very meaningful discussions really about any of that to be honest with you.

No. 43: Bubba Wallace said Aug. 9 he has an offer from Richard Petty Motorsports and an offer from Chip Ganassi Racing to drive the No. 42 car next season.

No. 48: With Jimmie Johnson retiring from full-time competition, Hendrick Motorsports has this seat to fill.

No. 95: Leavine Family Racing announced it was selling its assets earlier this week. The buyer has not been announced. Christopher Bell will move to the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team for 2021.

Christopher Bell to drive for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2021

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Christopher Bell will drive for the No. 20 next season for Joe Gibbs Racing, the team announced Monday, a decision that was expected with Erik Jones’ contract expiring after this season and it not being renewed. 

“I’m so appreciative of the opportunity I have this year with LFR and I want to finish this season strong for Bob (Leavine) and everyone there,” Bell said in a statement from the team. “At the same time, I’m extremely excited to return to Joe Gibbs Racing starting in 2021. It’s an organization I’m very comfortable with and have had a lot of success with.”

Said car owner Joe Gibbs: “We are excited to bring Christopher into our Cup Series program starting in 2021. He obviously had tremendous success in the Xfinity Series with us and we look forward to his return to JGR.”

Bell drove for JGR in in the Xfinity Series in 2018 and 2019, winning 15 races, before moving to the Cup Series and Leavine Family Racing this season. Leavine Family Racing announced last week that it has been sold.

Entering Sunday’s race at the Daytona International Speedway road course (3 p.m. ET on NBC), Bell is 19th in points. His best finish this season is fourth at the first Pocono race in late June.

Xfinity playoff grid after Road America

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Brandon Brown extended his hold on the final spot in the Xfinity playoff grid last weekend at Road America after struggles early in the race.

Brown needed to be pushed back to pit road before the field took the green because of a mechanical issue. He fell a lap down as his crew diagnosed the issue, got his lap back, scored four stage points in the second stage and finished 12th, one spot off his best career finish on a road course.

MORE: Brandon Brown wants to reward father with a special celebration

MORE: Austin Cindric wins at Road America 

Brown’s effort and Jeremy Clements misfortune in being collected in a crash to finish 29th led to Brown extending his lead on Clements for the final spot in the Xfinity playoff grid to 53 points. Myatt Snider is 73 points behind Brown. Eight races remain until the Xfinity playoffs begin Sept. 26 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Here is a look at the playoff grid. Drivers shaded in green are locked in the playoffs. Those shaded in yellow are in a playoff spot based on their point total. Drivers shaded in red are outside a spot in the Xfinity playoff grid.