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).