NASCAR recently announced some rule changes to the current penalty system that include eliminating P2 and P3 penalties. The P4 is still in effect but it will only be granted if egregious infractions occur. At Chicago, nine of 16 Chase qualifiers went through LIS after the race. From now on, however, all ‘Chasers’ will undergo post-race laser inspection.
In a NASCAR teleconference this afternoon, Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell explained why these changes were made.
“If we applied those penalties, a post-race penalty really would not treat each competitor fairly,” O’Donnell said. “We also saw this as a potential situation that could be repeating itself for the next nine races of the Chase going forward.”
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 winner Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson, the 12th-place finisher in the Chase opener were found to have failed post-race laser inspection. However, neither driver will be penalized. “We made the decision coming out of Chicago not to penalize the (No.) 78 or the (No.) 48 for the post-race infractions we saw, which we agreed were minor in nature," O'Donnell explained.
Three NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers have already shared their thoughts.
“This is a big deal for our sport,” No. 2 Ford driver Brad Keselowski said on FS1’s Race Hub. “It’s a pretty significant way of bringing the penalties back even. The rules have changed and what you can get away with on the cars has changed dramatically. The guys on my team and every other team in the Chase are working their butts off in overtime tonight to get it right.”
“Whether it’s right or wrong, NASCAR controls the playbook,” No. 23 Toyota driver David Ragan said, also on Race Hub. “If they feel like there’s a rule that maybe favors one team or one organization more so than the other, they can react and change that and we saw that this week.”
No. 3 Chevrolet driver Austin Dillon just wants to focus on racing.
“It’s hard to take in because it’s my first time in the Chase,” Dillon said on NBC Sports’ NASCAR America. “I just want it to be about the Chase and about racing and for the first week to go like this is not really fun. I just hope we go to New Hampshire and have a good race, not worry about all the penalties.”
Nine other penalties were issued to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams. Aric Almirola’s No. 43 and the No. 16 team of Greg Biffle, both of the Ford camp, were both tagged for improperly installed lugnuts (Section 12.1; 10.11.3.4) The P3 penalty means that $10,000 fines will be issued to crew chief Drew Blickensderfer and Brian Pattie.
Tony Stewart’s No. 14 Chevrolet failed pre-race template inspection after three attempts. The Stewart-Haas Racing team received a written warning and will lose 15 minutes of practice time at New Hampshire.
The other two SHR teams of drivers Danica Patrick and Kurt Busch were issued written warnings for failing pre-race LIS. Keselowski, Chase Elliott (No. 24 Chevrolet), Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Chevrolet) and Alex Bowman (No. 88 Chevrolet) were also given written warnings for failing two attempts at pre-race template inspection.
On the NASCAR XFINITY side of things, Paul Menard’s No. 2 Chevrolet was given a written warning for failing three attempts of pre-race template inspection. NASCAR Camping World Truck winner Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota) received a P2 for improper tailgate height (Section 12.1; 188.8.131.52.1). Crew chief Wes Ward has been fined $6,000 and placed on NASCAR Probation through the end of the year. The No. 18 team has also been docked 10 championship owner points.