CONCORD, North Carolina — On Thursday afternoon, Trackhouse Racing driver Daniel Suárez lost one strand of his safety net.
In a hearing before the National Motorsports Appeal Panel, Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron regained the 25 championship points he was docked after spinning Denny Hamlin through the infield on Sept. 25 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Though the panel increased Byron’s monetary fine from $50,000 to $100,000, the reinstatement of the points elevated the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet to seventh in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings.
Suárez, on the other hand, dropped one position to eighth, the last spot eligible to advance to the Round of 8 after Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400, the elimination race for the Round of 12.
Suárez still has a 12-point edge over Austin Cindric and Chase Briscoe, who are tied for ninth, but he now has seven drivers ahead of him instead of six. The driver of the No. 99 Chevrolet said on Saturday before Cup practice that his approach to Sunday’s race won’t change.
“In my mind, nothing has changed,” said Suárez, who qualified for the Playoffs by winning on the road course at Sonoma Raceway. “I don’t know if you’re thinking about the William Byron situation, but for me, I don’t care. That’s something I can’t control. He can be 20-points below or 20-points above and I don’t care. I can only control one car, and that’s the No. 99 Chevy.
“For me, honestly, right now, before the whole points situation that happened to them, nothing has changed. The only thing that’s changed is that position. But points-wise, it’s exactly the same. We just have to go out there and do our thing.
“We have a very, very good program when it comes to road-course racing. We have shown that in the past. We have to go out there, have fun and do things no different than any of the other road course races that we have done.”
Briscoe on the other hand was understandably frustrated. He says that he would have raced completely different last weekend in Talladega if he knew the points were going to be different.
“I raced Talladega totally different, thinking I was in a totally different points situation than what I’m in now,” he said on Saturday.