The sanctioning body has answered a lingering question from Texas Motor Speedway. NASCAR has decided to issue penalties to both William Byron and Hendrick Motorsports after he intentionally hit Denny Hamlin under caution.
NASCAR announced the news on September 27 with the weekly penalty report. Byron has received a $50,000 fine for his actions, which led to Hamlin spinning through the infield grass under caution. Additionally, NASCAR docked Byron 25 driver points and Hendrick Motorsports 25 owner points.
Both of these penalties fall under Sections 4.3.A & 4.4.C of the NASCAR Rule Book: NASCAR Member Code of Conduct.
The incident occurred in the final stage after Martin Truex Jr. blew a tire from the lead and brought out the caution. The field slowed down, but Byron throttled up and hit Hamlin from behind. This contact sent the No. 11 spinning through the grass.
Following the race, Byron admitted to NBC Sports that he had intentionally hit Hamlin after the driver of the No. 11 pinched him up against the wall. He said that he didn’t mean to send him spinning. Hamlin responded by saying that he had added Byron “to the list” of the drivers in need of payback.
“I’m just not going to get run like that,” Byron said to NBC Sports after the race. “There’s really no reason. I mean, we’re running second and third, I think, and had a shot to win. Killed our car, for sure, so that was a bummer.”
Byron Now Sits Below the Playoff Cutline
Byron left Texas Motor Speedway third in the standings and 17 points above the cutline with two races remaining in the Round of 12. Now he sits eight points below the cutline and is in need of some consistent performances to move on to the Round of Eight.
Byron is just behind Team Penske’s Austin Cindric (-7) in the standings. He is ahead of Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell (-25) and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman (-26).
Now Byron will head to Talladega Superspeedway, a track where he has nine starts with two top-five finishes. He will close out the Round of 12 at the Charlotte Roval, a track where he has two top-10 finishes in four starts.
For comparison, this penalty benefited a member of Stewart-Haas Racing. Chase Briscoe left Texas Motor Speedway four points below the Round of Eight cutline. Now he is seven points to the good with two races remaining in the Round of 12.
Byron Avoided a Larger Penalty
The points penalty will potentially shake up the playoffs, and it will make it far more difficult for Byron to move on to the Round of Eight. However, he will have an opportunity to compete in both races.
There was a possibility that Byron would receive a one-race suspension. After all, NASCAR suspended Kyle Busch for the Xfinity Series and Cup Series races at Texas Motor Speedway in 2011 after he intentionally wrecked Ron Hornaday Jr. in the Truck Series season finale.
Additionally, NASCAR suspended Johnny Sauter for one race back during the 2019 season. He had wrecked Austin Hill under caution at Iowa Speedway as retaliation for Hill sending him into the wall on Lap 136. Race Control parked Sauter for the rest of the race and then NASCAR suspended him for the race at Gateway Motorsports Park.
Byron did not receive this penalty. Instead, he remains in control of his own destiny heading toward Talladega Superspeedway and the Charlotte Roval.