Tired of feuds between drivers spilling over both on and off the track, NASCAR has set a new code of personal conduct for members in all 3 national series. Among the sanctions, NASCAR will punish a competitor who takes premeditated action against a driver in the Chase, as well as punishments for critical comments made to the media, as well as domestic abuse.
The need for such action was apparent after Matt Kenseth complained last season about a two-race suspension for intentionally wrecking Joey Logano during the Chase, as well as the case of Kyle Bush and his former partner Patricia Driscoll, which spilled over into the Maryland courts, even though he was not charged in the end.
While the new regulations ban ”premeditatedly removing another competitor from championship contention in a dangerous manner when not racing for position based on the available evidence and specific circumstances of the incident, NASCAR, said it will not issue punishments via a class system like it does for technical infractions.
What you’ll see is an effort by the sanctioning body to improve the level of transparency,” said Jim Cassidy, senior vice president of racing operations. ”We don’t want perception that anything is, do as you see fit.’ We are so far from that today as a sport. It’s a good thing for us. It’s a good thing for our competitors and everyone involved and the fans to understand what’s happening.”
NASCAR’s menu for (potential) penalties for a Bush-Logano Martinsville-type repeat includes a loss of 50-100 driver/owner points; $150,000-$200,000 fines, a two-race suspension, indefinite suspension or even termination. Meanwhile, attempting to manipulate the outcome of a race of championship (ala Michael Waltrip Racing tried in 2013) could cost a team 25-50 championship points, $50,000-$100,000 fines, a one-race suspension, indefinite suspension or termination.
Additional fines could be slapped on drivers for libelous statements that disparage anyone’s race, color or sexual orientation, as well as for disparaging the sport or NASCAR’s leadership and verbal abuse of NASCAR officials or media members.
”We understand that and that there are points in time that competitors cross the line, and they should have a better understanding of what may transpire if it’s determined they cross the line,” continued Cassidy. ”We have the ability to look at the implications as it relates to where a competitor might be. As it relates to their run for the championship, their position in the Chase and ability to look at that and potential for the action depending on how egregious the nature of the action might be. If we see genuine remorse after an incident (such as between Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick last year) punishment may be waived.”
In addition, Cassidy noted all penalties could be appealed.