NASCAR’s winds of change sweep through penalty structure, too

NASCAR was never known for its transparency for administrating penalties, but now specific offenses will carry specific sanctions, ranging from a loss of practice time for minor infractions to 150-point deductions for the most serious.

NASCAR’s revamped Deterrence System classifies six different levels of penalties, with fines and point deductions increasing as infractions become more severe. The structure also allows the sanctioning body to hit repeat offenders with a multiplier that could increase penalties by 50 percent. The new system brings with it a new Final Appeals Officer, Bryan Moss, president emeritus of Gulfstream Aerospace, who replaces former General Motors executive John Middlebrook as the final decision on penalty disputes.

“We believe the new system is easily understood,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR’s vice president for competition, “and especially lays out exactly what disciplinary actions will be taken depending on the type of technical infraction.”

The highest levels of penalties — P4, P5 and P6 — are all-inclusive, involving point deductions, fines, suspensions and probation. A P4 infraction would bring the loss of 25 driver and owner points, a fine of $40,000-$70,000, and a three-race crew chief suspension. At P5, the penalties increase to 50 points, fines of $75,000-$125,000, and a six-race suspension. The highest level of penalty, P6, carries a 150-point deduction along with a fine of $150,000-$200,000, and a six-race suspension to the crew chief.

“It’s never our intent to penalize, but in order to keep the playing field fair for everyone, we recognize that strong rules need to be in place,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s executive vice president for racing operations. “We believe we’ve done a good job governing the sport in the past, but always believe we can get better.

“The new Deterrence System is going to provide a clear path for our competitors to fully understand the boundaries while shoring up some gray areas which may have been in existence … all in an effort to be as transparent as possible.”