NASCAR Streamlines Penalty Structure

by Tucker White On Thu, Feb. 16, 2017

Martin Truex Jr. applies the winners sticker to the side of his car following his victory in last September's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway, a win that was marred by post-race failure of the Laser Inspection Station. Photo: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images

The old multi-tiered penalty structure in NASCAR is now a simplified dual-tiered structure and the consequences for failing inspection are more defined.

Instead of a six-step penalty grid, P1 through P6, the penalty structure is now a two-step grid that ranges from Level 1 (L1) to Level 2 (L2).

The lower level deals with minimum heights, weights, the Laser Inspection Station (LIS), gear ratios and lug nut violations, when 17 or fewer are secured. The higher level concerns “major safety violations,” telemetry or traction control usage, breaching of the testing policy and tampering with the “holy trinity” elements of the car: engine, fuel and tires.

L1 infractions call for a penalty of 10 to 40 points in all three national touring series.

In the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, in addition to the points penalty, an L1 infraction results in a fine of $25,000 to $75,000 and a one to three-race suspension for the crew chief or team member(s) responsible for the infraction. L2 infractions in the Cup Series carry a 75-point deduction, call for a six-race suspension and a $100,000 to $200,000 fine.

In the XFINITY Series, fines are scaled back to $10,000-$40,000. But it carries the same one to three-race suspension for a crew member responsible for the infraction as it does in Cup. An L2 violation in XFINITY has a $50,000-$100,000 fine but carries the same six-race suspension as Cup.

An L1 violation in the Camping World Truck Series results in a one or two-race suspension and a $5,000 to $20,000 fine. An L2 violation results in a four-race suspension and a $25,000 to $50,000 fine.

Post-qualifying failure of the LIS results in disallowance of time. Post-race failure is an L1 violation resulting in a loss of 35 points, a three-race suspension for the crew chief and $65,000 fine.

A missing lug nut results in a $10,000 fine for the crew chief. Two missing doubles the fine and leads to a one-race suspension. Three or more is an L1 penalty with a $65,000 fine and three-race suspension for the crew chief and 35-point deduction.

Per Zack Albert of, “‘Encumbered’ finishes…will remain in effect this season for post-race L1 and L2 violations. The rules allow a victory to stand in the event of an infraction, but a winning team will be stripped of the benefits associated with the win.”

The series directors now have discretion to issue a list of pre-race penalties ordered by severity: “Loss of annual ‘hard card’ credential, loss of practice time, loss of pit selection position, tail of the field penalty, a green-flag pass-through on pit road after the initial start, a green-flag stop-and-go in the pits after the start, and lap(s) penalty,” per Zack Albert of

NASCAR will continue taking select cars and trucks to their R&D Center in Concord, North Carolina for their weekly Tuesday inspection after every race.

NASCAR issued the update to the deterrence system for all three national touring series to move officiating towards penalizing infractions that occur during a race weekend.

“Our goal was to be able to, more like football or basketball or any sporting event to where we could officiate and police within the event,” Elton Sawyer, NASCAR vice president of officiating and technical inspection, said to “I think the real message is that we want to get these infractions, the smaller infractions, we want to get them corrected at the race track.

“It’s very similar to a 15-yard penalty. If you can get three 15-yard penalties and you can still win the game or drive down and score a touchdown, then good for you. If we can issue these penalties and you lose pit selection or you start at the back or a drive-through (penalty), and you can still come back and win the race, well then we feel like what that infraction was, the penalty fits the crime.”

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