The sanctioning body has issued its first major penalty of the Gen 7 era. NASCAR has announced that it has docked the No. 6 team of Brad Keselowski a significant number of points and fined crew chief Matt McCall $100,000.
NASCAR provided the update on March 24 with a press release. The No. 6 team will lose 100 driver points, 100 owner points, and 10 playoff points. McCall will also receive a four-race suspension as part of the penalty.
The L2-level penalty stems from a violation of Sections 14.1 and 14.5 in the NASCAR Rule Book, which both address modification of a single source supplied part. Keselowski’s No. 6 failed teardown inspection at the NASCAR R&D Center following the trip to Atlanta Motor Speedway.
This penalty does not result in disqualification from the Atlanta Motor Speedway race. The failed inspection occurred during the teardown instead of during pre-race or post-race inspection. According to wording from the NASCAR Rule Book, courtesy of FOX Sports’ Bob Pockrass, L2 violations found after post-race inspection will result in race finishing position not counting toward eligibility for the playoffs, advancement in the playoffs, tiebreakers, or eligibility for non-points events.
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Keselowski Now Sits Well Below the Cutline
The 2012 Cup Series champion spent the first five races in contention for a playoff spot. He was first in points after the Daytona 500 before dropping to 18th after races at Auto Club Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and Phoenix Raceway. Though he moved up to 16th overall after a 12th-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
With the penalties, however, Keselowski has lost 100 of his 122 points. He now sits 35th overall in the championship standings, behind every other full-time driver. The closest to Keselowski are Cody Ware (53 points) and Harrison Burton (54 points).
The veteran driver now has 21 regular-season races to rebound from the penalty. He can still make the playoffs with a win and a run of strong performances to stockpile points. NASCAR requires that race-winners are top-30 or better to be eligible for the playoffs. Though he will lose 10 playoff points if he does manage to secure a spot above the cutline, which will hurt him in the opening round.
NASCAR Announced the Updated Penalty System in January
The penalties issued to the No. 6 are the first under an updated system that NASCAR introduced ahead of the year. This version, which became public on January 24, features L1, L2, and L3-level penalties with their own significant consequences.
The L1 tier includes three main violations — failure to meet minimum weight requirements, source parts not meeting the NASCAR Rules, and failures in the submission and approval process of parts.
The potential penalties for the L1 violations are points deductions in the range of 20-75, playoff points deduction between one and 10 points, the suspension of one crew member for one to three races, and fines between $25,000-$100,000.
The L2 violations include modifications to single-source Next Gen parts, violations of engine-seal requirements, unapproved alterations to the engine control system wiring, and the use of unapproved onboard electronics.
The violations in the L2 tier have fairly stiff penalties. The list includes point deductions between 75-120 points, playoff point deductions between 10-25, the suspension of one or two crew members for four to six races, and fines between $100,000-$250,000.
The L3 violations bring the most severe penalties. The list includes the loss of 120-180 points, the loss of 25-50 playoff points, the suspension of one or two crew members for six races, fines in the range of $250,000-$500,000, one-race suspension for the team if it commits repeat high-level violations, and nullifying postseason eligibility.
Counterfeiting or modifying single-source Next Gen parts, Engine infractions, and performance enhancements (nitrous oxide, vacuum leaks) Engine Control Unit (ECU) or Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) violations, modifying tires and/or fuel, and violations of private team testing policy are all L3 violations.