NASCAR Makes Big Change in 2023 to Harshest and Most-Complained About Penalty Last Year That Punished the Wrong People

NASCAR Makes Big Change in 2023 to Harshest and Most-Complained About Penalty Last Year That Punished the Wrong People

This week, NASCAR released a host of changes to its lengthy rulebook. The decision to ban Ross Chastain’s Hail Melon has unsurprisingly received the most attention. Interestingly, a rule and penalty that grabbed headlines for much of last year has been changed for the 2023 Cup Series season, but has received far less publicity.

NASCAR Cup Series teams face heavy penalties for loose wheels

Part of the talk this week is whether a driver with a loose wheel should try to back up on pit road. Denny Hamlin explains that it would not have been a good idea for him in Dover and comments on the severity of the sanction.

— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) May 8, 2022

It started at Daytona and lasted much of the year – loose wheels rolling or bouncing dangerously down the track at high speeds, forcing drivers to make split-second decisions to maneuver and avoid hitting the road. wheel and propelling it into the pits.

To avoid these dangerous scenarios, NASCAR imposed what most considered a harsh penalty, with the crew chief and two pit crew members receiving four-race suspensions. The sanctioning body hoped that such a sanction would discourage this in the future.

However, targeting team leaders was not the right approach, and teams made this clear, suggesting that they: a) had nothing to do with the loose wheel and b) weren’t trying to cut corners with a single lug nut as might have been the case in the past with multiple lugs.

NASCAR changes the rule in 2023

The team leader will no longer be suspended for loose wheels.

If a loose wheel occurs on the track, a penalty of 2 laps will be imposed and 2 crew members will be suspended 2 races.

On pit road, the penalty is either to start at the back (caution) or
a passing penalty (green).

— Jordan Bianchi (@Jordan_Bianchi) January 31, 2023

Later in the 2022 season, NASCAR began trying to make adjustments to the rule with language identifying where the loose wheel occurred and if it went to another pit. But the suspensions remained the same.

This week, the governing body released their new rules for the upcoming season. Among them was one that dealt with loose wheels. The 2023 version is significantly different, picking up where the changes started in late 2022, with the location of the incident being important, but more importantly, team leaders are no longer part of the punishment.

If a wheel comes off a car on pit road during a caution, the car restarts at the rear end of the field. This is a passing penalty if a wheel comes loose on a pit road in green flag conditions.

When the car has left the pit lane and loses a wheel on the track, the driver will be penalized two laps and will see two pit crew members suspended for two races. Suspensions will apply to those most responsible for the wheel coming off. The policy is the same for Cup, Xfinity and Trucks.

The sanctioning body deserves credit for the NASCAR Cup Series race run by Aric Almirola and Kyle Larson at Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 18, 2021. | Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

NASCAR catches criticism from teams and fans pretty consistently, and largely with good reason. Sometimes the sanctioning body can be like a huge ship and take a long time to turn things around and head in the right direction.

It took officials an entire season to finally change the overly harsh coasting penalty, but they did. It is progress.

And now team bosses can get back to doing what they do best – worrying about how their car is performing on the track, not whether or not they’ll be at the next race because a member of crew failed to properly install a wheel.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *