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NASCAR’s big stance on giving out penalties

NASCAR has been firm on handing out big penalties to teams for messing with the NextGen car. What does the garage think and why should penalties be more common?

Austin Konenski
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Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

NASCAR has been put into many positions during the 2022 season when it relates to giving out penalties and they have made a stern stance. However, is it stern enough and what do drivers think?

Let’s evaluate NASCAR’s stance on giving out penalties and look deeper.

NASCAR garage area’s thoughts on penalties this season

NASCAR has given out multiple penalties this season, specifically toward RFK Racing, Front Row Motorsports, and Joe Gibbs Racing as the NextGen car brings stricter enforcement.

RFK Racing and Front Row Motorsports were each slapped with L2-level penalties that included a deduction of 100 driver and owner points, 10 playoff points, $100,000 fine, and a four-race crew chief suspension.

Both organizations were penalized due to the modification of a single source supplied part. It is not a surprise after NASCAR set the law down before the season saying it would be harsher on teams.

Ironically, Brad Keselowski, driver/owner for RFK Racing, talked about Front Row Motorsports’ penalty and supports NASCAR giving out these penalties. In fact, Keselowski thinks there should be more.

“I personally think the sport needs more penalties and that NASCAR needs to be handing them out like candy right now to get control of the garage, because we’ve been playing a lot of games for a lot of years. The games have to stop.”

Brad Keselowski to RACER.com on giving out penalties

It’s a reasonable concept to grasp since harsher penalties will create less games being played at the track. It further eliminates the threat of cheating and creates a fair environment.

As stated above, this is something that NASCAR pushed for before the season started. It is smart for the sport to keep its integrity as cheating does hurt the competition.

NASCAR Cup Series Managing Director Brad Moran talked about the stricter policies after Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch’s disqualifications after the race at Pocono Raceway.

“The teams and the owners and everybody is well aware that this new car was going to be kept with some pretty tight tolerances, and there’s some aras that all the teams are well aware that we cannot be going down the that we had in the past with the other cars.”

Brad Moran on the stricter policies

Everyone is well aware and the whole garage area is on notice, specifically after the Keselowski and McDowell penalties. They can derail an entire season and possible playoff berth.

Jeff Burton spoke to Autoweek about his thoughts on stricter penalties. Burton shares the same reasoning that most peoples share when asked.

“We can debate and argue all day about what the penalty should be, but it has to be severe, it has to be big. It doesn’t matter what was done to it—you can’t touch it. There’s an approval process you have to go through if there has to be a repair done because of supply issues. But short of that, you can’t touch it.”

Jeff Burton to Autoweek on harsher NASCAR penatlies

This was the case for Joe Gibbs Racing after a miscommunication led to two of its cars being disqualified at Pocono. They left tape on the front of the car that measured two inches wide and 5.5 inches long with a thickness of 0.012 inches.

The tape was not enough to make Hamlin and Busch the clear 1-2 finishers in that event. Realistically, it had little effect and they would’ve still finished in those positions without the tape.

However, as Burton stated, NASCAR needs to keep the penalities severe and more of that will be discussed below.

The case for NASCAR handing out bigger penalties

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Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

NASCAR stated before the season that penalties will be stricter when it relates to the NextGen car and it has been on full display after multiple violations throughout the year.

As Brad Keselowski said above, NASCAR needs to control the garage and stop the games that are being played by organizations. It’s important to keep an equal playing field.

Yes, the Joe Gibbs Racing disqualications were probably too severe for what was done to the cars. However, it’s something that NASCAR needs to continue moving forward.

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If anything with the cars is found, it should be severe because it will dissuade others from doing the same. In fact, the penalties handed out to RFK Racing and Front Row Motorsports might be too light.

The penalties should have a bigger impact on the playoffs and while 10 playoff points are two race victories, the idea of it ruining a championship run should be present.

There are likely more things that could be penalized in NASCAR and Keselowski talked about how they should be handing out penalities for those occurrences too.

NASCAR has done a great job enforcing the rules they put into place and while they are severe in nature, handing out more of them is not a bad idea.

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