NASCAR tweaks appeals process amid continuing debate over rules violations

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BRISTOL, Tenn. – A couple of days after losing an appeal for penalties for wrecking Ross Chastain, Denny Hamlin remained in disbelief and bewildered.

“I still don’t understand the ruling, given all the examples and all the precedents, and even the actual data that I put on the table,” said Hamlin, who thought his car’s telemetry data showed he wasn’t was in violation of NASCAR. rules

“It still doesn’t make sense, which is the disappointing part, especially NASCAR’s stance on it. Refuting actual data was just a tough pill to swallow.”

Hamlin wasn’t the only one who seemed a little confused by a decision last week, except this time the roles were reversed with NASCAR officials walking away disappointed.

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Hamlin and his fellow team owners opted to skip the quarterly Team Owners Council meeting scheduled for Wednesday. They did this to send a message that more progress was needed between the teams and NASCAR in negotiating a new revenue-sharing model.

“We had our meeting and went over what we wanted to happen. We had one [executive] call,” said NASCAR Chief Operating Officer Steve O’Donnell. “We meet quarterly. We’ll keep doing it.

“We are open to dialogue. We believe it is important to grow the sport to work together on a number of issues… We were disappointed and surprised by what happened, but we will continue to put our best foot forward. .”

As NASCAR and the owners and drivers search for answers to their questions, the sport will try to move forward. It’s not unusual for there to be some angst at some point in every season, and the last few weeks have had everyone maybe a little more on edge.

Negotiations between owners and teams are likely to continue for several months as the lease agreements — NASCAR’s version of a franchise — expire at the end of the 2024 season, correlating with the end of the current deal of 10 years of television with FOX and NBC.

Teams hope to raise the quota. They currently get 25% of the TV revenue, with NASCAR getting 10% and the tracks, mostly owned by NASCAR, getting the other 65%.

“As a sport, everybody wants to keep moving forward,” said driver and co-owner Brad Keselowski. “And we have a lot of work to do to get there.”

Hamlin said, “We had some glaring issues that we need to address that are much bigger than what was probably going to be dealt with there, so we chose to save a little bit of time.”

It appears that one issue, unrelated to these negotiations, for both the teams and NASCAR that they hope can be resolved is that NASCAR can enforce its rules and have an appeals system that doesn’t seem inconsistent.

Denny Hamlin on the appeals system

Denny Hamlin on the appeals system

Denny Hamlin discusses the changes to the appeals panel procedures, his appeal and the additional penalties on Hendrick’s teams this week.

NASCAR will now require its appeals panel to give a reason when it modifies a penalty. And if the appeals panel determines that a team has committed the violation of which it is accused by NASCAR, then the panel may not completely rescind any category of the penalty; it can only be adjusted within the range prescribed in the NASCAR rulebook.

That decision came after an appeals panel rescinded a 100-point (and 10 playoff point) penalty to the four Hendrick Motorsports teams and drivers last month, upholding the $100,000 fines for the heads of crew and its four-stroke suspensions. Then, the following week, a different appeals panel only adjusted a Kaulig Racing penalty for the same offense from 100 points to 75 points.

For any penalty issued this week and beyond, the appeals court in that situation could rescind the entire points penalty as it did with Hendrick.

“Our penalties have been consistent. It surprised us as a lot of fans [were] about the sentence on Hendrick [appeal] knocking out all the points,” O’Donnell said.

“We recognized that our system had a flaw.”

Former Cup champion Kevin Harvick argued that the appeals should be broadcast live to help fans and teams understand the issues and the debate.

“We should do them publicly,” he said. “Why not? If it’s really fair, let’s do it publicly and stream them live on and go. . . . Watching it live would be a lot more entertaining.”

As with any NASCAR decision, there will be debate. Harvick was not surprised that Hamlin lost his appeal of a 25-point, $50,000 penalty for intentionally wrecking Chastain at Phoenix, a penalty issued after Hamlin admitted on his podcast that he let his car slide into Chastain.

“Showing it is not the way to do it and win,” Harvick said. “I loved every minute of it, but you can’t pound your fist in the chest and then try to back down. That just doesn’t work.”

Kyle Busch, however, felt that Hamlin should have prevailed because these types of accidents are common.

“Every chance that somebody crashes into somebody else because of car contact, it could be a penalty, it could be a fine, it could be whatever,” Busch said.

“Their rulebook pretty much contradicts itself. We all have a very, very difficult understanding of what is what. It is what it is.”

If there’s any team wondering about the rulebook, it might be Hendrick. NASCAR penalized two Hendrick teams, those of Alex Bowman and William Byron, an additional 60 points and five playoff points for a body violation found on their cars at Richmond.

“I have nothing good to stay,” said Byron.

William Byron Talks NASCAR Penalty

William Byron Talks NASCAR Penalty

William Byron, after a frustrating truck heat, didn’t say much about the penalty issued to his team this week.

NASCAR had taken both Hendrick cars after the race at Richmond for further scrutiny, just four days after NASCAR had effectively lost the appeal. NASCAR has the option to take cars after any race and regularly, but not always, takes a couple.

“NASCAR was not happy about it [initial penalty] being overturned and the lack of transparency or understanding of why it was overturned made no sense to anyone,” Hamlin said.

“Everyone was angry. There was only one team that was happy with the results. It’s their sandbox and if they’re angry, they can scrutinize more than other cars. That’s how things have worked for a long time, and I’m sure it won’t end soon.”

It has yet to be determined whether Hendrick will appeal. If there is an appeal, NASCAR obviously expects that penalty to be total.

All the penalties and other off-track drama have made for a tough few weeks for NASCAR.

“Sometimes it just happens,” O’Donnell said. “We want to get back to focusing on our stars, back to racing, back to having fun as well and celebrating the sport.”

Thinking out loud

Unable to paint a V and check box on the track to show drivers where to pick a lane for the restart, NASCAR used a drone to display a box above the track to tell drivers where to make their choice

Many short tracks just use a cone on a rope, but NASCAR went with the drone, and while it could definitely be considered a little overboard, it seemed to work pretty well. Drivers said they could see him.

Obviously, NASCAR couldn’t officiate as closely as it does when a box is painted on the track, as much as the drivers they choose at the designated spot. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Should NASCAR consider it for more races? Maybe road courses. But beyond that, there would still be the fear of an operational hiccup causing the drone to malfunction while above the racing cars.

In News

— When will Chase Elliott return? This Friday will mark exactly six weeks since he broke his leg in a snowboarding accident in Colorado. The team has been saying it’s week-to-week when he could return and his field is optimistic he could return soon, but there’s still no indication that this weekend’s race at Martinsville, a track that would require braking important with his healing left leg, will mark his return.

— Chase Briscoe broke the middle finger on his left hand in a dirt model race late Thursday night when he spun the wheel to the left and hit the wall, sending the wheel spinning rapidly. The tear runs diagonally from the knuckles to the middle of the toe and she said she has trouble even putting on her socks. But he was wearing an arm in Bristol that he said worked well and allowed him to grip a steering wheel, something to do with his left hand while shifting. He said Sunday night that X-rays on Monday will determine if he will have surgery.

— Matt Crafton replaces Cody Ware, son of Rick Ware Racing owner Rick Ware, for the Cup race at Bristol dirt. The team characterized Ware’s absence as a “personal matter” and did not say when he would return. Crafton said he was called Tuesday about possibly replacing Ware and then found out Thursday that he would be in the car.

— This is Bristol’s third year of dirt. Will there be a quarter? Speedway Motorsports general manager Marcus Smith said no decision has been made yet. He also indicated that returning next year is another trip to the Circuit of the Americas, which Speedway Motorsports leases for the NASCAR weekend with a lease option through 2024.

Social reference point

Statistics of the day

Joey Logano, Ty Majeski and William Byron finished 1-2-3 in the first stage of the truck race at Bristol. And the second stage. And the end It is the first time the same drivers have finished in the same 1-2-3 order since the introduction of stage races in 2017.

They said it

“It was very fun”. Christopher Bell after his win in Bristol

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including the last 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrassand register at FOX Sports NASCAR Newscast with Bob Pockrass.

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