NASCAR Rules Stricter and Punishment Coming Faster in 2017

Photo by Jerry Jordan/Kickin' the Tires

By Jerry Jordan, Editor

DAYTONA BEACH, Fl. – NASCAR put race teams on notice Thursday that times are changing when it comes to race inspections in the garage and violations will be much more severe and come quicker than in past years.

Now, teams with cars failing any part of the sanctioning body’s inspection process will be forced to return fix the problem in their garage stall and then go back to the beginning of the inspection line and again go through all stations until that vehicle is declared legal. But that isn’t the only significant change in procedure coming for 2017, additional penalties could include crew members and the crew chief losing their Hard Card credential.

Hard Cards serve as the golden key to the infield, allowing teams to skip the NASCAR registration trailer, which opens later than the garage and usually has long lines of people. Such a penalty could severely impact how much time a team has to get their racecar ready for competition.

“Where possible, infractions which occur during a race weekend will be contained to that race weekend. Significant infractions will still be subject to post-event penalties,” according to information from the sanctioning body. That means most minor penalties will be enforced over the course of the event weekend, however, more severe penalties will still be meted out later in the week.

Additionally, NASCAR has consolidated its tier system, which broke rules violations down in six different levels. The new system implements a two-level system with Level 2 being the most severe, which could result in a loss of 75 points, a suspension of six races and a fine up to $200,000. A Level 1 penalty could bring a 10-to 40-point deduction, a one to three race suspension and/or a fine between $25,000 and $75,000.

“Violations resulting in Level 1 Penalties tend to fall between serious and very serious in nature,” states Section 12.5.2.2 LEVEL 1 (L1) PENALTIES (a). “Examples of Level 1 Penalties can be found in the Penalty Violation Example Chart in Section 12.5.2.5 Penalty Violation Examples. (b) Infractions resulting in Level 1 Penalties may be found Pre-Race, In-Race, and Post-Race. Possible Penalty options can be found in Section 12.5.2.6.2 Level 1 (L1) and Level 2 (L2) Minimum Penalty Options.”

For a Level 2 Penalty, Section 12.5.2.3 LEVEL 2 (L2) PENALTIES (a), “Violations resulting in Level 2 Penalties, in general, are extremely serious in nature. Level 2 Penalties are typically reserved for circumstances which disprove the likelihood that the violation resulted from an accident, omission, or general misunderstanding of the NASCAR Rules. Violations resulting in Level 2 Penalties also represent the expressly forbidden areas of unauthorized activity in or about the vehicle. Examples of Level 2 Penalties can be found in the Penalty Violation Example Chart in Section 12.5.2.5 Penalty Violation Examples. (b) Infractions resulting in Level 2 Penalties may be found Pre-Race, In-Race, and Post-Race. Possible Penalty options can be found in Section 12.5.2.6.2 Level 1 (L1) and Level (L2) Minimum Penalty Options.”

Also, NASCAR will handle safety violations more severely and on a case-by-case basis. Examples of safety violation, loss of ballast, loss of wheel, a lack of personal safety equipment and missing lug nuts. A loss of equipment that is required be securely attached to the car such as a lost wheel will result in a mandatory minimum four race suspension for the tire changer and the crew chief. Losing ballast will result in suspensions of crew chief, car chief, and head engineer for, at least, four races.

“In the event that NASCAR is unable to identify which series or vehicle the lost ballast originated from, all vehicles entered for that Event from and associated with the team organization identified on the lost ballast will receive the mandatory minimum suspensions,” states 12.5.2.6.3 MINIMUM SAFETY PENALTY OPTIONS (d), of the NASCAR rulebook.

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