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As NASCAR continues to make sweeping changes to the sport in terms of competition, yet another new round of changes has come about, this time with NASCAR’s penalty process. On Tuesday, NASCAR announced a brand new penalty structure that is intended to be a more “transparent and effective model”, according to NASCAR’s executive vice president of racing operations Steve O’Donnell.
The new system is called “NASCAR’s Deterrence System” and is a tiered structure that specifically lays out the types of penalties that will be assessed in direct relation to the infraction. There are six different tiers—ranging from P1 to P6—with P1 being the most minor and P6 being the most severe.
Here is a diagram NASCAR released that explains the different levels of infractions and the type of penalties that will be expected:
NASCAR’s system begins with warnings that are issued for minor infractions before the P1 – P6 structure begins to take effect. Additionally, if any of these penalties are discovered in post-race inspection, additional penalty elements (points, money, etc.) are added on top of normal penalties. Finally, if a team violates a penalty twice, there will be a 50% increase in the severity of the penalty.
Here are the types of penalties associated with each tier structure:
- P1 penalties may result from multiple warnings to the same team.
- P2 penalties may include but are not limited to violations such as hollow components, expiration of certain safety certification or improper installation of a safety feature, or minor bracket and fasteners violations.
- P3 penalty options may include but are not limited to violations such as unauthorized parts, measurement failures, parts that fail their intended use, or coil spring violation.
- P4 level infractions may include but are not limited to violations such as devices that circumvent NASCAR templates and measuring equipment, or unapproved added weight .
- P5 level may include but are not limited to violations such as combustion-enhancing additives in the oil, oil filter, air filter element or devices, systems, omissions, etc., that affect the normal airflow over the body.
- P6 level may include but are not limited to violations such as affecting the internal workings and performance of the engine, modifying the pre-certified chassis, traction control or affecting EFI or the ECU.
Interestingly enough, NASCAR does not have a penalty structure for what they call “behavioral infractions”, which means that “threatening bodily harm” to a journalist will be sorely missing from this year’s rulebook.
NASCAR also changed and further explained the appeals process. Instead of John Middlebrook, who overturned some heavy penalties last season, Final Appeals Officer Bryan Moss has been appointed to deal with the final appeals process. NASCAR denied that Middlebrook’s replacement had anything to do with his decisions last season, but it will be interesting to see of Moss has a different view of things once those final appeals are brought to this table.
Staying along the line of “pretty graphics for complicated structures”, here is yet another flow chart for how the appeals process will work:
In a press conference with O’Donnell and Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton, Pemberton once again insisted that taking away wins was something that the sanctioning body was still hesitant to consider, saying “we always feel that when the fans leave the racetrack they know who won the race”.
So, race fans, start your spreadsheets and Word documents because with all these new changes, we’ll all be checking our notes on a weekly basis to see what will happen next.
Also, if you want to add to the growing pile of changes, the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series will also follow a P1 – P6 structure, though one that is slightly yes severe.
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Last year one positive that came from the appeals process was the consideration of “intent to gain competitive advantage” (Kenseth piston rod). The rod was clearly illegal but there was clearly no intent to gain advantage. This new system seems to remove the consideration of intent and any other logical thought from the appeals process therefore is a step backwards. I just don’t see where the appeals committee can adjust the penalty to fit the crime.
The new system doesn’t seem to address the perceived philosophy of NASCAR not wanting to enforce all the rules all the time against their sponsor/partners. Roof Flaps!!! Clearly illegal with clear intent of gaining competitive advantage arguably at the cost of safety yet no penalties assessed. Bowyer not penalized for Richmond Self-Spin. In Nationwide final race Keslowski was in clear violation of the brand new 100% rule riding as wingman to Hornish. All doubt was removed when he said as much over the radio yet no penalty. I guess we’re in for more of the same in 2014 as these problems are not addressed in the new system.
Another problem not addressed is the enforcement of probation. NASCAR plays the shell game when a team is already on probation and breaks another rule. Their explanation is pitiful and is another example of not wanting to hurt their sponsor/partners.
It will be interesting to see if a certain team and owner continue to get “perceived” preferential treatment while others get nailed to the cross.
Don… it will be even more interesting if a certain team and owner DOESN’T get preferential treatment. I think most of us expect nothing to change in that regard.
It seems ludicrous to me that an appeals panel would consist of only three members, and in the past their qualifications were pretty much inconsequential when determining what appeal they are assigned to hear. Sorry, but I have little faith in the integrity of the appeals process. I didn’t before, and I don’t now.
A little more…
Let’s not be fooled here. The whole reason for this new penalty process has nothing to do with transparency. It came about due to the embarrassment that Nascar suffered when John Middlebrook basically killed penalties that Nascar had assessed on three race teams last year. So they took the penalties and put them in nice little boxes so that there can be little discretion used when appeals are made. Then Nascar replaced Middlebrook. They could have overhauled the appeals panel, but why take action against the group that rubber stamps whatever Nascar wants done? No, it’s Middlebrook that has to go.
Nice try, Nascar, but give us credit for knowing BS when we smell it.
agree 100% with CarlD.
These changes are laugh out loud funny. LOL… no really and literally LOL.
I myself am wondering why Nascar is trotting all these “spiffy” “info graphics” all of a sudden? Do they think the tables, charts and pretty pictures clarify anything or add the least bit of legitimacy? If so, they are sadly mistaken and they’d better hire a graphic designer quickly. The charts smack to me being generated by a marketing or management type who is trying waaaaayyyyy too hard to legitimize their concept. Or maybe it’s just that someone recently discovered powerpoint on their computer. Whatever.
Seems they’ll leave no stone unturned in the quest for their version of Truth, Justice and the appearance of Integrity.
All this does is put a different spin on the way NASCAR has always handled penalties-We will do what we want and when we want and to whoever we want. In a nutshell, more of the same in pretty little graphics.