The NASCAR Cup Series Rule Book received a significant update on January 24. Officials unveiled a three-tier penalty system focusing on the Next Gen stock cars, which provides the ability to revoke playoff eligibility for severe violations.
According to a release issued by NASCAR, the L1 and L2 violations can result in a wide range of fines, points deductions, and crew member suspensions. The L3 violations, which have the most severe consequences, bring potential team suspensions into play along with nullifying playoff eligibility and fines up to $500,000.
The list of example L3 violations includes: 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.
The potential penalties for L3 violations include 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.
The L1 & L2 Violations Still Include Significant Penalties
While the L3 violations bring the harshest penalties, those in the L1 and L2 tiers can still have a significant impact on the Cup Series teams. Those that commit infractions will still lose points, pay a hefty fine, and potentially lose multiple crew members.
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.
“To make sure that all of those things stay above board, there’s going to have to be a culture shift from the way that the teams and NASCAR, for that matter, have done business,” said Scott Miller, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition, in a statement. “So this deterrence model has more meat in it, more meaningful penalties, but I think we all thought that it was it was time for this with the introduction of the new car.”
There Will Be Another Significant Rule Change
While the NASCAR Rule Book received new additions with the three-tier penalty system focusing on the Next Gen car, there was another update that addressed another Gen 7 feature. NASCAR removed the penalty language for unsecured lug nuts.
The updated Rule Book does not have the fines and crew chief suspensions for one or multiple unsecured lug nuts as in past years. The reason is that the Gen 7 cars will have a single lug at the center of the wheel.
There is still a penalty for losing an improperly installed wheel/tire. This penalty carries a four-race suspension for the offending team’s crew chief and two additional crew members.