NASCAR Issues Massive Penalties to Cole Custer, SHR

Cole Custer

Getty Cole Custer has received a massive penalty from NASCAR.

NASCAR announced after the Charlotte Roval race that it would examine Cole Custer’s actions on the final lap. Now the sanctioning body has issued massive penalties.

According to the weekly penalty report, Custer and the No. 41 team violated Sections 4.3.A; 4.4.C & 5.5: NASCAR Member Code of Conduct/Performance Obligation. Custer received a $100,000 fine. NASCAR also docked the No. 41 team 50 driver points and 50 owner points.

The penalty report also noted that crew chief Michael Shiplett has been fined $100,000. He has received an indefinite suspension from NASCAR. Shortly after NASCAR announced the penalties, Stewart-Haas Racing responded. The team noted that it would appeal.

The penalties stem from the last lap at the Charlotte Roval. Custer appeared to slow entering the rear chicane, which blocked Austin Dillon and other drivers. Teammate Chase Briscoe used the opportunity to pass multiple cars and secure his spot in the Round of Eight.

A NASCAR Executive Detailed the Investigation Process

Cole Custer

GettyCole Custer waits for qualifying at Phoenix Raceway.

There were obvious questions about the investigation into Custer’s final lap at the Roval and how it compared to previous instances of drivers blocking for their teammates. Scott Miller, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition, met with media members after the announcement and provided some more information.

Miller said that Custer slowing down was different than Chase Elliott intentionally blocking Kevin Harvick at Bristol Motor Speedway because the driver of the No. 9 had “taken matters into his own hands” and that there was not any instruction from the team. Miller also discussed the radio communications from Custer’s crew chief.

“So obviously, with all of the data that we have available to us now — data coming off the car for brakes, steering, throttle, and all of the audio — we dug into all of that, and obviously found some things that we felt like we had to react to,” Miller said during a conference call.

“The data was pretty telling, and then when we got to the audio and had the crew chief, telling the driver that ‘I think you got a flat checkup, checkup, checkup’ when he couldn’t even see the car or have any idea whatsoever that the car might have a flat. Obviously, pretty telling as to what went on there.

“Coupled with the data in the video and all the rest of the things that we looked into — well, that was the bulk of the things but in-car videos and whatnot — nothing contradicted the fact that that was done deliberately by those individuals.”

Miller also addressed questions about potentially changing the playoff lineup or removing Briscoe from the Round of Eight. He said that there were conversations about that, but NASCAR decided not to take this route for two reasons.

The first reason is that Briscoe had already moved himself above the cutline before Custer slowed down. He was in a tie with Kyle Larson for the final transfer spot, but he held a tiebreaker with a better finish during the round.

The second reason is that there were no discussions on Briscoe’s radio about working with Custer to point into the playoffs. The No. 14 team just talked about points and where other playoff drivers were running throughout the race.

Another Driver Called Potential Penalties a ‘Slippery Slope’

There were several discussions about the penalties after NASCAR issued its weekly report. Hours prior, there was another that featured a former Cup Series champion.

Joey Logano addressed the potential penalties during his weekly SiriusXM NASCAR Radio segment, “Behind the Wheel.” Logano mentioned the 100% rule that NASCAR implemented and asked how they can truly judge whether a driver is giving it his all during a race.

“Are you driving at all you got?” Logano asked. “Well, at times it’s better not to. Is that still giving 100% though? I don’t know.”

The Team Penske driver continued and compared the situation to superspeedway racing. He said that drivers are following their teammates during these races known for chaos and that they aren’t necessarily trying to win. He also mentioned that you can’t prove that a second-place driver didn’t try to pass the leader for the win.

“Unless it’s blatantly obvious, I don’t see how it can happen,” Logano said about potential penalties being handed down.

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