NASCAR toughens penalty structure, could nullify playoff eligibility

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NASCAR toughened its penalty structure for the upcoming season, and series officials could nullify a team’s eligibility for the playoffs if the infraction is severe enough.

NASCAR released its updated penalty structure for Cup, Xfinity and the Camping World Truck Series on Monday.

This follows what Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, said in December about the sanctioning body ramping up penalties.

“Penalties will be ratcheted up,” O’Donnell said in December at the Next Gen test at Charlotte Motor Speedway “We hope that we don’t have to do that, but we have to put everybody on notice that this is a culture shift.”

With Monday’s announcement, O’Donnell stated: “As we discussed during the test at Charlotte, and at length with teams over the offseason, the new deterrence model will be a culture shift for our industry.

“The car was a collaborative project, designed to emphasize performance at the track and the unrivaled abilities of our teams, drivers and pit crews. There will be strong penalties for any teams who run contrary to that design so the fans can focus on our drivers and the great racing expected from NASCAR.”

Here is the penalty structure for Cup, Xfinity and Trucks and what could the penalty options for NASCAR are:

Cup Series

L1 Penalty 

Level 1 penalties may include but are not limited to:

  • Team sourced parts not meeting the NASCAR Rule Book not rising to a higher penalty level.
  • Failure to meet minimum weight after the race.
  • Failure to submit and receive approval of parts in accordance with the NASCAR Rule Book.

All L1 penalties found during the race or after the race shall result in disqualification.

L1 penalty options:

  • 20-75 point deduction
  • 1-10 playoff point deduction
  • 1-3 race suspension for team member(s) on team roster
  • 1 team event roster position subject to suspension
  • $25,000 – $100,000 fine

L2 Penalty

Level 2 penalties may include but are not limited to:

  • Modifications to Next Gen single source vendor supplied parts and/or assemblies not rising to an L3 penalty.
  • Failure to meet the engine seal requirements.
  • Major external engine parts, not part of the long block, that differ from what is required by the rules.
  • Anything that alters or affects the engine control system wiring harness and/or the certified engine control system  wiring sub-harnesses.
  • Onboard electronics not approved in advance by NASCAR.
  • Violation of the Vehicle Testing Policy not rising to a higher Level.

All L2 penalties found during the race or after the race shall result in disqualification.

L2 penalty options:

  • 75-120 point deduction
  • 10-25 playoff point deduction
  • 4-6 race suspension for team member(s) on team roster
  • 1-2 team event roster positions subject to suspension
  • $100,000 – $250,000 fine

L3 Penalty

Level 3 penalties may include but are not limited to:

  • Counterfeiting or modifying Next Gen single source vendor supplied parts and/or assemblies.
  • Engine infractions (e.g. cubic inch displacement, compression ratio, long block assembly, and/or internal parts) not meeting the rules.
  • Engine performance enhancements (e.g. nitrous oxide, vacuum leaks, etc.).
  • ECU/EFI parts not being used as the rules permit.
  • Altering/modifying tires and/or fuel.
  • Violating the Vehicle Testing Policy.

All L3 penalties found during the race or after the race shall result in disqualification.

L3 penalty options:

  • 120-180 point deduction
  • 25-50 playoff point deduction
  • No playoff eligibility for driver and/or team owner
  • 6-race suspension for team member(s) on team roster
  • 1-2 team event roster positions subject to suspension
  • NASCAR could suspend the car number for one race
  • $250,000 – $500,000 fine

 

Xfinity Series

The Xfinity Series also updated its L1 and L2 penalties.

L1 Penalty (Xfinity)

Level 1 penalties may include but are not limited to:

  • Post-race incorrect ground clearance and/or body heights measurements.
  • Failure to meet minimum weight post-race.
  • Vehicles, equipment, and/or parts failing to meet specifications not rising to a higher penalty level.

All L1 penalties found during the race or after the race shall result in disqualification.

L1 penalty options (Xfinity):

  • 10-40 point deduction
  • 1-10 playoff point deduction
  • 1-2 race suspension for team member(s)
  • $5,000 – $20,000 fine

L2 Penalty (Xfinity)

Level 2 penalties may include but are not limited to:

  • Effecting, modifying, and/or altering the standard tires in any way, other than through authorized means.
  • A violation of the Vehicle Testing Policy or the Wind Tunnel Testing Policy.
  • Engine total cubic inch displacement above the maximum allowed or below the minimum required.
  • Compression ratio on any cylinder above the maximum allowed.
  • Parts or system configurations (Examples: rear suspension parts mounted and assembled in a manner so as to allow movement that should not otherwise be available, shock absorbers that show evidence of possible unauthorized modification or alteration or have the wrong internal components)

All L2 penalties found during the race or after the race shall result in disqualification.

L2 penalty options (Xfinity):

  • 75 point deduction
  • 10-20 playoff point deduction
  • 4-race suspension for team member(s)
  • $25,000 – $50,000 fine

 

Camping World Truck Series

L1 Penalty (Trucks)

Level 1 penalties may include but are not limited to:

  • Failure to meet minimum weight post-race.
  • Vehicles, equipment, and/or parts failing to meet specifications not rising to a higher penalty level.
  • Failure to submit and receive approval of parts in accordance with the NASCAR rules.
  • Parts, systems, devices, omissions, or part failures that could have an effect on the vehicle’s down force.

All L1 penalties found during the race or after the race shall result in disqualification.

L1 penalty options (Trucks):

  • 10-40 point deduction
  • 1-5 playoff point deduction
  • 1-2 race suspension for team member(s)
  • $5,000 – $20,000 fine

L2 Penalty (Trucks)

Level 2 penalties may include but are not limited to:

  • Effecting, modifying, and/or altering the standard tires in any way, other than through authorized means.
  • Failure to meet the engine seal requirements.
  • Onboard electronics not approved in advance by NASCAR.

All L2 penalties found during the race or after the race shall result in disqualification.

L2 penalty options (Trucks):

  • 75 point deduction
  • 5-10 playoff point deduction
  • 4-race suspension for team member(s)
  • $25,000 – $50,000 fine

 

Helio Castroneves rules out Daytona 500

Helio Castroneves Daytona 500
Robert Scheer/Indy Star/USA TODAY NETWORK
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Helio Castroneves might be at the 2023 Daytona 500, but the four-time Indy 500 winner won’t be in a race car.

During a news conference Thursday at Daytona International Speedway, Castroneves confirmed in response to a question from NBC Sports that he essentially has ruled out attempting to make his NASCAR Cup Series debut in the Feb. 19 season opener.

As recently as last Thursday at Rolex 24 Media Day, Castroneves, 47, said he still was working on trying to piece together a deal.

The Brazilian had been negotiating with the Cup team co-owned by boxer Floyd Mayweather and would have been in an “open” entry that lacked guaranteed entry to the Great American Race. That potentially would leave him in the precarious position of needing to make the race on qualifying speed or a qualifying race finish (as action sports star Travis Pastrana likely might need in his Cup debut).

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“Unfortunately for me, lack of experience, no testing,” Castroneves said. “A lot of things. I believe it would be a little bit tough throwing myself in such a short notice, and to go in a place that you’ve got to race yourself into it. So as of right now, yes, it’s not going to happen.

“But we did have an opportunity. We just got to elaborate a little bit more to give me a little more experience on that. So there is more things to come ahead of us, but as of right now, I want to focus on the IndyCar program as well and (the Rolex 24 at Daytona).”

Castroneves, who has a residence in Key Biscayne, said he still might attend the Daytona 500

“I might just come and see and watch it and continue to take a look and see what’s going to be in the future,” he said.

Castroneves enters Saturday’s Rolex 24 at Daytona having won the event the past two years. He made his signature fence-climb after winning last year with Meyer Shank Racing, which he will be driving for full time in the NTT IndyCar Series this year. He became the fourth four-time Indy 500 winner in history in his 2021 debut with Meyer Shank Racing.

The 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar champion also has indicated an interest in Trackhouse Racing’s Project 91 car that aims to place international drivers in a Cup ride (such as Kimi Raikkonen at Watkins Glen International last year). Team co-owner Justin Marks recently tweeted Trackhouse wouldn’t field the Project 91 car at the Daytona 500.

After winning the 2022 Superstar Racing Experience opener, SRX CEO Don Hawk had promised he would help secure a Daytona 500 ride for Castroneves.

Castroneves has been angling for a NASCAR ride for years, dating to when he drove for Team Penske from 2000-20. After winning the Rolex 24 last year, he said he had been lobbying Ray Evernham and Tony Stewart for help with getting in a Cup car.

Fire at Reaume Brothers Racing shop injures three

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A Thursday fire at the Reaume Brothers Racing shop in Mooresville, North Carolina, injured three individuals, according to Mooresville (North Carolina) Fire-Rescue.

Firefighters were dispatched to the shop, which is scheduled to field entries for driver Mason Massey in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series this season, at about 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

The fire department extinguished the blaze quickly. The department stated on its Facebook page that one individual was transported to Lake Norman Regional hospital for smoke inhalation, and another was transported to Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem, N.C. with burn injuries. A third was treated and released.

The Mooresville Fire Marshall’s office is investigating the cause of the fire. The fire department said the shop sustained “significant fire damage.”

In a tweet, the team said it is determining the extent of damage to the building. “More importantly,” it said, “a few of our team members did sustain injuries during the fire and are being transported for medical treatment.”

Trackhouse, RFK Racing, Front Row Motorsports sign sponsorship deals

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Trackhouse Racing, RFK Racing and Front Row Motorsports announced sponsorship deals Thursday morning.

Trackhouse said WWEX, a Dallas-based global logistics group, will increase its sponsorship presence with the team this year, serving as the primary sponsor in 21 races for drivers Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez.

WWEX will appear on Chastain’s Chevrolets in 19 races and will sponsor Suarez twice. The organization was a Trackhouse sponsor in 11 events in 2022, which was a breakout season for both Chastain and Suarez.

RFK announced that Solomon Plumbing, which joined the team last season, will expand its presence this season and in future years. The Michigan-based company will serve as the primary sponsor for several races on driver Brad Keselowski‘s No. 6 Ford.

MORE: Chase Briscoe signs contract extension with Stewart-Haas

Solomon specializes in plumbing and fire services for new development and construction. It initially sponsored Keselowski last season in the dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Front Row Motorsports has signed Quincy Compressor, a Bay Minette, Ala.-based compressor manufacturer, as a sponsor for four races.

Quincy will sponsor Todd Gilliland‘s No. 38 team in three events and Michael McDowell‘s No. 34 team in one race.

 

 

Stewart-Haas Racing signs Chase Briscoe to contract extension

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Chase Briscoe has signed a multiyear contract extension to remain at Stewart-Haas Racing, the team announced Thursday.

The length of the deal was not announced.

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Briscoe is entering his third Cup season with the team. He won his first series race last year, taking the checkered flag at Phoenix last March. That victory put him in the playoffs. He finished the season ninth in the standings. 

“It’s huge to have stability, with my team and my partner,” Briscoe said in a statement from the team. “It just gives you more confidence. Stewart-Haas Racing is where I want to be for a long time. It’s the place I’ve known longer than anywhere else in my NASCAR career.

“I remember getting signed by Ford in 2017 and I told people, ‘You know, if I could pick one place to be, it would be Stewart- Haas Racing. And if I could drive one car, it would be the 14 car. That would be the ultimate dream.’ And now, here I am.

“SHR has such a great group of people, from the Xfinity Series to the Cup Series, and they’ve all just guided me in the right direction. From drivers to crew chiefs to crew members, they’ve always had my back, and that’s been a huge help – just having people believe in you.”

The 28-year-old Briscoe has been with SHR since 2018. He split a limited Xfinity schedule that season between what is now RFK Racing and SHR. He ran full time with SHR in the Xfinity Series in 2019 and ’20 before moving to Cup in 2021.

“Chase has made the most of every opportunity and the proof is in the results. Keeping him at SHR was a priority and we’re proud to have him in our racecars for many more years to come,” said Tony Stewart, who co-owns SHR with Haas Automation founder Gene Haas, in a statement from the team. 

Briscoe’s signing comes two weeks after teammate Kevin Harvick announced that this will be his final season in Cup. 

The Cup season begins Feb. 5 with the Busch Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before going to Daytona for the Feb. 19 Daytona 500.