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.”

 

NASCAR Open starting lineup at Bristol

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Michael McDowell will start on the pole for the NASCAR Open at Bristol Motor Speedway after a random draw. Aric Almirola joins him on the front row.

Click here for NASCAR Open starting lineup

The winners of each segment advance to the All-Star Race, along with the fan vote winner. Last year, Kyle Larson won a segment in the Open to advance to the All-Star Race and then won that event. Other segment winners last year were William Byron and Bubba Wallace. Alex Bowman advanced through the fan vote a year ago. Bowman has already qualified for this year’s All-Star Race.

 

NASCAR Open at Bristol 

Race Time: 7 p.m. ET Wednesday

Track: Bristol Motor Speedway; Bristol, Tennessee (0.533-mile speedway)

Length: 85 laps over three segments, 45.3 miles

Segments: Segment 1 is 35 laps. Segment 2 is 35 laps. Segment 3 is 15 laps.

TV coverage: FS1

Radio: Performance Racing Network (also SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Streaming: Fox Sports app (subscription required); goprn.com and SiriusXM for audio (subscription required)

Next Xfinity race: Saturday at Texas (200 laps, 300 miles), 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Next Truck race: Saturday at Texas (167 laps, 250.5 miles) 8 p.m. ET on FS1

Martin Truex Jr. to start on pole for All-Star Race at Bristol

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Martin Truex Jr., who is seeking his first All-Star Race win, will start on the pole for Wednesday night’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway after a random draw.

Truex will be joined on the front row by Alex Bowman.

Rookie Cole Custer, who earned a spot in the All-Star Race with his win Sunday at Kentucky, will start eighth.

Click here for All-Star Lineup

  • Positions 17-19 will go to segment winners from the NASCAR Open. The 20th starting spot goes to the fan vote winner, which will be announced after the NASCAR Open

Among the special rules for the race:

# The Chose Rule will be used. As drivers approach a designated spot on the track, they must commit to the inside or outside lane for the restart.

# The car number will move from the door toward the rear wheel to give sponsors more exposure.

# Cars that have automatically qualified for the All-Star Race will have underglow lights on their cars.

 

NASCAR All-Star Race at Bristol 

Race Time: 8:30 p.m. ET Wednesday

Track: Bristol Motor Speedway; Bristol, Tennessee (0.533-mile speedway)

Length: 140 laps over four segments, 74.6 miles

Segments: Segment 1 is 55 laps. Segment 2 is 35 laps. Segment 3 is 35 laps. Segment 4 is 15 laps (only green flag laps count in this segment).

TV coverage: FS1

Radio: Performance Racing Network (also SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Streaming: Fox Sports app (subscription required); goprn.com and SiriusXM for audio (subscription required)

Next Xfinity race: Saturday at Texas (200 laps, 300 miles), 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Next Truck race: Saturday at Texas (167 laps, 250.5 miles) 8 p.m. ET on FS1

Xfinity playoff grid after Kentucky doubleheader

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The Xfinity Series went to Kentucky Speedway for a doubleheader and Austin Cindric left the track with two wins and a spot in the playoffs.

Cindric, who claimed the first oval track NASCAR wins of his career, is now third on the playoff grid among the six drivers locked into the postseason. He has 15 playoff points.

Noah Gragson, who is second on the grid, won three of four stages in Kentucky and has 18 playoff points.

Six spots remain to be filled on the playoff grid. The last two drivers currently in the top 12 are Ryan Sieg (+57 points above cutline) and Brandon Brown (+14).

The first four drivers outside the top 12 are Myatt Snider (-14 points from cutline), Jeremy Clements (-30), Alex Labbe (-42) and Jesse Little (-47).

Cup playoff grid after Kentucky Speedway

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Cole Custer delivered the first curveball to the NASCAR Cup Series’ playoff chase Sunday when he won at Kentucky Speedway.

Custer entered the race 25th in the points, nine spots back from the cutoff line for 16-driver field.

Now, Custer is one of nine drivers locked into the playoffs, meaning the cutoff for the postseason is 15th in points.

Among those currently in the playoff grid who are not locked in, the last two are William Byron (+30 points) and Jimmie Johnson (+24).

The first four drivers sitting outside a playoff spot are Austin Dillon (-24 points from cutoff), Tyler Reddick (-41), Erik Jones (-42) and Bubba Wallace (-84).