By: Andrew N

NASCAR handed down a string of severe penalties on Wednesday, assessing L-2 penalties on both Hendrick Motorsports as well as Kaulig Racing.  In addition, Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs racing was penalized for an on-track incident with Ross Chastain on the final lap of Sunday’s race.

The penalties assessed to HMS and Kaulig are massive – 100 driver/owner points, 10 playoff points, a $100,000 fine for all crew chiefs involved, as well as a four-race suspension for all crew chiefs. The penalties will be assessed to the cars and crew chiefs of the #5 (Kyle Larson/Cliff Daniels), #24 (William Byron/Rudy Fugle), #31 (Justin Haley/Trent Owens), and #48 (Alex Bowman/Blake Harris) Chevrolet entries.  The penalties will not be assessed to the drivers of the #9 of Chase Elliott and Josh Berry because Elliott was inactive for injury and Berry is not eligible for Championship points as a fill-in for Elliott. The owner points penalty will still be enforced, however, as will the fine and suspension for crew chief Alan Gustafson.

The penalties to the Chevrolet teams come after the louvers of the cars were confiscated by NASCAR on Saturday after Cup Series practice.  Per NASCAR, the penalty is for violation of Sections – modification of a single-source, vendor-supplied part.

William Byron is allowed to retain his win from Sunday, however, the 10-playoff point penalty nullifies everything he earned by winning the last two races.

All drivers are still playoff eligible, as only L-3 result in nullification of playoff eligibility.  Full breakdown of NASCAR’s penalty system below:

L1 penalties

Violations include:

  • Post-race failure to meet minimum weight requirements
  • Team source parts not meeting the NASCAR Rules, but not rising to a higher-level penalty
  • Failures in the submission and approval process of parts

Penalty options include:

  • Points deductions: 20-75 points
  • Playoff points deductions: 1-10 points
  • Suspension of one crewmember for 1-3 races
  • Fines: $25,000-$100,000.

L2 penalties

Violations include:

  • Modifications to single-source Next Gen parts not rising to L3 level infractions
  • Violations of engine-seal requirements
  • Unapproved alterations to the engine control system wiring
  • Use of unapproved on-board electronics

Penalty options include:

  • Points deductions: 75-120 points
  • Playoff points deductions: 10-25 points
  • Suspension of one or two crewmembers for 4-6 races
  • Fines: $100,000-$250,000

L3 penalties

Violations include:

  • Counterfeiting or modifying single-source Next Gen parts
  • Engine infractions (cubic-inch displacement, compression ratio, assembly and internal components) and performance enhancements (nitrous oxide, vacuum leaks)
  • Engine Control Unit (ECU) or Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) violations
  • Modifying tires and/or fuel
  • Violations of private team testing policy

Penalty options include:

  • Points deductions: 120-180 points
  • Playoff points deductions: 25-50 points
  • Suspension of one or two crewmembers for six races
  • Fines: $250,000-$500,000
  • Nullifying postseason eligibility, regardless of wins, points and other qualifying criteria
  • One-race suspension for the team, in the event of repeat high-level violations

Denny Hamlin, who admitted on multiple podcasts this week that he more or less too out Ross Chastain intentionally as retaliation for their on-track incidents last year, was fined $50,000 and docked 25 driver points.

One other minor penalty was issue on Wednesday, to the front tire changer and jack man of the #10 Stewart-Haas Racing entry of Aric Almirola, after he lost a wheel on track during Sunday’s race.  Then penalty for the infraction is a two-race suspension but no fine. No points are docked from the #10 team.

Following the penalties and the docked points, Kevin Harvick is the new Championship Points Leader at 151 points through 4 races.  Alex Bowman was knocked from the top spot at 154 points after being assessed the 100-point penalty.

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