Another day another storyline, this one was expected though. NASCAR met with William Byron and Hendrick Motorsports on Thursday to hear their side of the case. The outcome greatly benefitted Byron as the points penalty was rescinded. He gets his 25 points back which moves him back to the good side of the cutline to +14 ahead of the bubble.
That’s not going to go over well and for one, I staunchly don’t agree with.
Where this is major is, Byron would have had to make up 11 points during Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400 (2 p.m. ET, NBC, PRN), now he just has to maintain his standing above it. This has massive championship implications because Byron is the last winner at 2 of the 3 tracks in the Round of 8 too.
My takeaway? I’m honestly stunned. Completely confounded. I truly felt like Byron didn’t have a leg to stand on for this appeal. He admitted to spinning Denny Hamlin under caution which is a blatant violation. Those were his words. By definition, the punishment fit the crime.
He can say he didn’t “mean to spin him” but he sped up, didn’t slow down, ran over the back of Hamlin’s car, under caution, which sent Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota spinning.
By definition that’s a violation of a rule in the rulebook.
He was initially docked 25 driver points and 25 owner points along with a $50,000 fine as a result of violating Sections 4.3.A & 4.4.C of the NASCAR Rule Book, which pertain to the NASCAR Member Code of Conduct.
Section 4.4.C states that member actions that can result in a loss of 25-50 driver and team owner points and/or $50,0000-$100,000 fine and/or suspension includes “intentionally wrecking another vehicle, whether or not that vehicle is removed from Competition as a result” and “any actions deemed to compromise the safety of an Event or otherwise pose a dangerous risk to the safety of Competitors, Officials, spectators, or others.”
To just take away the penalty but up the fine is questionable to me and I honestly don’t like it one bit.
However, Byron and his team didn’t see it that way.
“I guess it was a little bit different than what I expected,” Byron said last weekend of the penalty. “I will let the appeal process take care of that. We accept it for this weekend and move on and look at it like any other weekend.”
Byron said the team compiled a “list of evidence” – with video angles and information, he hopes will at the very least lessen the penalty. And he noted, there was no penalty issued to Joey Logano, who ran Byron high (and into the wall) while racing for the victory during the final laps of the Spring Darlington race this year.
“My intent was never to spin him under caution,” Byron said. “I meant to go up there and bump him like I’ve seen numerous people do, even during that race. There’s a difference in intent there for sure.”
Byron called it “a little bit weird” that NASCAR issued the penalty post-race, but insisted, “We just take what we’re given. We’re glad to be on this stage, glad to be in the Playoffs still have an opportunity to win the next two weeks and we’re not really that far out. But with the severity of the penalty, that’s what we were opposed to. That’s what the appeal’s about, the severity of the penalty.”
For his part, Hamlin agreed the penalty was too late – for different reasons.
“It didn’t help my finish,” Hamlin said. “It didn’t change the fact I could have won the race and instead finished 10th so you have to account for those points too.”
I get that Byron could have been sent to the rear or even held multiple laps but had a chance to get points back. I get that if you miss a penalty during a race, you shouldn’t call one after. I didn’t agree with the penalty at first.
However, the penalty was issued days later and it’s a tough swallow for me to see them just take the points aspect away and up the monetary fine when the money doesn’t make a dent into their pocketbooks.
How this changes things?
Daniel Suarez is now on the cutline at +12 instead of a tie for the final spot. Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric each move to -12 while Christopher Bell falls to -45 forcing a must win for him. If you think the penalty was severe enough to up the fine, you must keep the points penalty because you’re actually helping him, not hurting him.
That’s why this points penalty being rescinded changes a lot for this weekend. Why not give Denny Hamlin points for a 2nd place finish while we’re at it? I don’t agree with how any of this process came out and I can see it being infuriating to fans.
How does NASCAR miss a blatant spin by one member to another under caution? How do you penalize that driver nearly 48 hours later? Then, a little over a week later, you take the points penalty away but up the monetary fine.
Doesn’t sit well with me. Not one bit. This fan base already thinks it’s a conspiracy that Kevin Harvick was penalized on Wednesday and now they think NASCAR is continuing to baby Rick Hendrick…
This is absurd and setting a wrong precedence during the most important stretch of the season – the playoffs.
The members of the Appeals Board for the hearing were Hunter Nickell, Dale Pinilis and Kevin Whitaker.