The sanctioning body has once again shown its willingness to bring down the hammer during the Next Gen era. NASCAR has issued L2-Level penalties to the No. 34 team of Front Row Motorsports after Michael McDowell finished sixth at Pocono Raceway.
NASCAR issued a press release on July 26 and detailed the punishments. The release said that the No. 34 team’s penalty falls under Sections 14.1 C, D, and Q of the NASCAR Rule Book, as well as Sections 14.5 A and B. These sections cover the vehicle assembly and the modification of a single-source supplied part.
NASCAR did not announce which part violated the rule, but mechanic/writer Bozi Tatarevic provided more information. He said that he had heard FRM used filler on a body panel gap, which is more egregious than the tape used on the No. 11 and No. 18 cars of Joe Gibbs Racing at Pocono Raceway.
This L2-Level penalty brings about the loss of 100 driver points and 100 owner points. Additionally, NASCAR fined crew chief Blake Harris $100,000 before suspending him from the next four Cup Series events. He will be eligible to return for the regular-season finale at Daytona International Speedway on August 27.
If McDowell wins one of the next five races and secures a spot in the playoffs, his team will receive another penalty. The L2-Level penalty also includes the loss of 10 playoff points, which would automatically drop him below the Round of 16 cutline.
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The No. 34 Went Back to the R&D Center
This penalty follows a post-race decision by NASCAR officials. They randomly selected the No. 34 of Front Row Motorsports and the No. 47 of JTG Daugherty Racing to undergo further evaluation. These stock cars went back to the NASCAR R&D Center with the disqualified No. 11 and No. 18 entries of Joe Gibbs Racing.
NASCAR officials will randomly select cars to take back to the R&D Center for further inspection after races. This doesn’t mean that those teams will receive penalties, but there is the possibility that the inspection will reveal an illegal modification. The most recent penalty report is a fitting example considering that there was nothing out of line on the No. 47 while the modified part on the No. 34 resulted in a massive penalty.
Following the news of the penalties, McDowell will now drop further below the cutline. He left Pocono 20th in points with 447. Now he is 26th and behind Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer with 347 points.
New Penalties Became Part of the Next Gen Era
When NASCAR turned the page to the Next Gen era, it announced there would be some significant changes. One of the biggest was the addition of a new penalty system covering the single-source parts.
The three-tier system includes a wide range of penalties including fines, loss of driver and owner points, and suspensions. The most egregious violations can also bring about the loss of playoff eligibility.
Since unveiling the new system, NASCAR has issued penalties to multiple teams. The No. 42 and No. 43 teams of Petty GMS Motorsports both received L1-Level penalties ahead of the race at Pocono, which included the suspensions of both crew chiefs and the loss of 35 driver points and 35 owner points.
The No. 6 team of RFK Racing was the first to receive a massive penalty. NASCAR announced on March 24 that Brad Keselowski’s team had received an L2-Level penalty. The team lost 100 driver points and 100 owner points while crew chief Matt McCall received a $100,000 fine and a four-race suspension. This penalty also stemmed from a teardown at the NASCAR R&D Center.