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Evaluating NASCAR’s big penalties to William Byron and Ty Gibbs

NASCAR handed out two sizable penalties to William Byron and Ty Gibbs from Texas Motor Speedway. Let's dive into the punishments and whether they were correct.

NASCAR: Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500
Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

As needed and expected, NASCAR handed out a pair of penalties to Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron and 23XI Racing driver Ty Gibbs for their incidents in the NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway this last weekend.

Let’s dive into the cases and evaluate NASCAR’s punishments for Byron and Gibbs.

NASCAR hands out harsh penalty to William Byron

NASCAR: Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500
Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Byron spun out Denny Hamlin under caution in the NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway after the driver of the No. 11 car made him touch the wall coming off Turn 2 multiple laps beforehand.

Hamlin could not retain his position and lost several spots due to the incident. However, Byron was able to continue in his respective spot due to NASCAR not seeing the incident after focusing on Martin Truex Jr.’s caution and pit stops.

At the end of the day, NASCAR’s mishandling of the situation really hurt the driver of the No. 24 car. Byron was penalized 25 driver and owner points, including a $50,000 fine to his name.

Essentially, Byron would have finished in 32nd place, which coincidentally, would be right behind Truex. This basically means the same as if NASCAR would have parked the 24-year-old on Sunday night.

NASCAR was likely going to take action on Byron for his actions whether it was allowing Hamlin to retain his position, sending Byron to the back, or even holding him at least one lap before the next restart.

Byron lost out on more points than he would have if NASCAR saw the incident. However, he put himself in this position after the spin on-track was unwarranted for the amount of contact the two drivers saw off Turn 2.

Yes, the penalty of 25 points is higher than anticipated as 10-15 points seems to be more reasonable on the surface. But, NASCAR certainly appeared to set a precedent that it will not be accepted and you will lose almost a half-race of points.

Hendrick Motorsports didn’t take long to appeal the penalty toward Byron but it feels like it will not be overturned. The young driver said he didn’t mean to spin him out on purpose but that he meant to show his displeasure and bump him.

The case is likely not strong after admitting that he meant to bump him under caution. Maybe, some of the fine will disappear, but it seems like Byron will enter this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway with an-eight point deficit to the cut-line.

Related: NASCAR needs to penalize William Byron and Ty Gibbs in 2022

NASCAR goes easy on Ty Gibbs after dangerous actions

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Jul 30, 2022; Speedway, Indiana, USA; NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Ty Gibbs (54) before the Penzoil 150 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Gibbs performed multiple actions during the NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway but hitting Ty Dillon on pit road was the main issue that was reviewed for the young driver.

Dillon exited his pit box and accidentally hit the No. 23 car. Gibbs turned left and almost sent Dillon sliding into NASCAR officials and members of RFK Racing’s No. 17 team as they worked on repairs in their pit box.

It was a very dangerous situation that got the attention of RFK Racing team owner Brad Keselowski as he talked about the incident on Fox Sports 1’s NASCAR Race Hub in the days following the event.

“Ultimately, what I see here is a teenage kid who is working his way through it. He’s making mistakes on the biggest stage in our sport, and it’s a really difficult situation. I can’t be mad at (Ty Gibbs). I did a lot dumber things when I was a teenager, but I wasn’t on this stage. So, this goes to a bigger problem of why we don’t really need teenagers at this level because this is not the place to learn those lessons.”

Brad Keselowski on Ty Gibbs

Keselowski is right about him working through it on the biggest stage. However, the excuse of Gibbs being 19 years old needs to stop. If he is going to race at NASCAR’s top level, there can’t be breakdowns like we saw on Sunday night.

As Larry McReynolds said on NASCAR SiriusXM Radio, it doesn’t matter if a driver is nine, 19, or 29 years old, this simply cannot happen and they shouldn’t be at NASCAR’s top level if incidents like this occur.

Gibbs was fined $75,000 and docked 25 owner points for his actions. However, many across the industry agree that Gibbs was let off easy as he should have been suspended for at least one Cup Series race and possibly on the Xfinity Series side.

Keselowski is one of those people who think Gibbs was let off easy in terms of his punishment.

“I actually think this penalty is not severe enough. I think we’re to the point now where, when you have the body of work that Ty Gibbs has here, it’s time to take a race off and send a strong message here, ‘We’re not doing this on pit road, guys.’ These people have families. They’re exposed to being hit by a car at 50 MPH. And it’s not just crew members. It’s officials too. This has to stop right now.”

Brad Keselowski on Ty Gibbs’ penalty

Gibbs’ penalty was simply not enough. Sure, the large sum of cash that could be lost by 23XI Racing due to losing owner points and the fine will make people angry but this is not enough to teach him a lesson.

The 19-year-old put multiple peoples’ lives at risk because of tempers that could not be controlled. He has enough talent to win races at NASCAR’s top level, but his maturity and other actions will be what determine his success.

Gibbs is expected to replace Kyle Busch at Joe Gibbs Racing next season and the hope is that he learns by showing actions that demonstrate his maturity for this type of racing every single week. As of now, that’s not the case.

It’s correct to be angry about the incident because those people on pit road could have been your friends or family. This is a dangerous sport but it doesn’t need to become even more dangerous.

Hopefully, this is a wake-up call for Gibbs as he works on controlling himself in a stock car. These words aren’t directed toward bashing the young driver and hating on what he has done thus far in the sport.

They are words directed toward fixing the issues we have seen so no one gets hurt. It’s much bigger than racing.