NASCAR drivers embrace latest rule enforcement, help penalties

By Bob Pockrass
FOX Sports activities NASCAR Author

HOMESTEAD, Fla. — NASCAR not often suspends a driver for an on-track incident. It not often penalizes a staff for race manipulation.

It has accomplished each these issues the previous two weeks. The message: Don’t mess with the playoffs, and don’t do something wickedly harmful.

Have groups and drivers gotten that message? NASCAR probably will discover out within the subsequent two weeks.

The elimination race to find out the 4 drivers who will vie for the championship is Sunday on the shortest observe on the circuit, the 0.526-mile Martinsville Speedway. The champion will then be topped Nov. 6 on the one-mile Phoenix Raceway.

NASCAR officers hope they don’t have any extra of the problems that pressured their hand this month. However the playoffs are designed for drama, and with that comes policing the game.

William Byron on the Bubba Wallace penalty

William Byron says the penalty issued to Bubba Wallace exhibits the place NASCAR stands in relation to retaliation.

Earlier than NASCAR even will get to Martinsville, its appeals panel will hear an attraction of a penalty issued to Stewart-Haas Racing for manipulating the end Oct. 9 on the Charlotte street course. NASCAR says Cole Custer was directed to decelerate to assist teammate Chase Briscoe earn factors (factors he ended up not needing to advance to this spherical).

“I think they kind of jumped the gun a little bit,” staff co-owner Gene Haas mentioned of the penalty. “Obviously, they don’t want people fixing races, but when someone says, ‘I think you may have a flat,’ [as Custer’s crew chief did] doesn’t seem quite exactly a code word.

“You hear that on a regular basis. Cole is fairly adamant there wasn’t something happening. I feel this was just a few circumstances that they interpreted in their very own mild.”

Also before the NASCAR Cup Series races at Martinsville, Bubba Wallace will return to the track for practice and qualifying following a one-race suspension for intentionally wrecking Kyle Larson in retaliation Oct. 16 at Las Vegas. NASCAR said the wreck crossed the line when it comes to dangerous acts on the racetrack.

Wallace and 23XI Racing accepted the penalty. There wasn’t much argument from them, and the conversation around the Wallace penalty was about whether NASCAR had been more lenient in previous instances that should’ve resulted in suspension.

“They drew an excellent line,” said Denny Hamlin, co-owner of 23XI Racing and a driver for Joe Gibbs Racing. “They did the precise factor. 

“It’s can we be more consistent with that for the future, and what is the determining factor of crossing that line? … The speeds, the type of track we were at [at Las Vegas] was a big factor in the penalty.”

Denny Hamlin says NASCAR did the precise factor

Denny Hamlin says NASCAR did the right thing

Denny Hamlin says NASCAR did the precise factor in drawing the road on retaliation.

Whereas the warmth of the second would possibly cloud their judgment at excessive speeds, drivers appeared to help NASCAR establishing and imposing the principles.

“I personally think it is good that NASCAR is putting the law down, the hammer down on things that they think are wrong and that they want to act,” Ryan Blaney mentioned. “That’s the solely manner you possibly can type of police it. You need to do these issues.

“On the finish of the day, it’s their name. In the event that they see one thing that they do not like, I anticipate them to behave on it, and so they have the final couple of weeks. It does not change the method of the best way I do something. In my thoughts, you by no means take into consideration, ‘If I do something malicious with intent, or something like that, that you can get away with it.’”

Ryan Blaney on recent penalties handed down by NASCAR

Ryan Blaney on recent penalties handed down by NASCAR

Ryan Blaney says he thinks it is good that NASCAR has introduced the hammer down on actions it views as flawed.

Former Cup champion Joey Logano mentioned drivers know proper from flawed at excessive speeds — or they ultimately study.

“Sports tests your morals and tests your character a lot of times,” he mentioned. “Sometimes it is tough to balance all that in the heat of the moment. … You sometimes make decisions that you’re not proud of later on, but you learn lessons every time.

“I’ve made errors and made dumb choices inside race automobiles that I remorse. However I’ve discovered from each one in all them, and I really feel like I do know the place my line is now.”

Joey Logano on the messages NASCAR has despatched

Joey Logano on the messages NASCAR has sent

Joey Logano says NASCAR has despatched messages the previous couple of weeks about the place the road is so far as drivers’ conduct.

The road can fluctuate with the driving force and the staff concerning how far they might go to assist a teammate or to point out their displeasure with the best way they’ve been raced.

“It hasn’t changed anything in the way I think and the way I do things because in my opinion, both of those moves were extremely, extremely dumb,” Trackhouse driver Daniel Suarez mentioned. “Each of them, I used to be going to be extraordinarily shocked if there weren’t penalties.

“Earlier than even these conditions occurred, I’d by no means do one thing like that. Not that clear. You need to be smarter. I don’t know what these guys had been considering.”

Suarez mentioned he was glad NASCAR “put everybody of their locations as a result of it was an excessive amount of.” However, that doesn’t mean he won’t give his teammate, Ross Chastain, some extra room as Chastain tries to advance to the championship round.

“I’m going to race Ross not tremendous arduous,” Suarez acknowledged. “He’s my teammate, and I do know what’s forward of him. … I’d by no means surrender a win to assist him. However my degree of aggression to my teammate proper now could be going to be somewhat bit decrease.

“But I’m never going to brake to give up a position. I know the consequences of that. That’s not professional. The same thing — wrecking somebody the way it happened [at Vegas] — is not smart.”

Chase Briscoe on penalties for retaliation

Chase Briscoe on penalties for retaliation

Chase Briscoe believes that NASCAR’s penalties on retaliation should be extreme.

The drivers had been comparatively united of their view of Wallace’s actions.

“Intentionally hooking people in the [right rear] should never be acceptable,” Kevin Harvick tweeted after the Wallace penalty was introduced. “Protect us from ourselves. I hope this is the beginning of the end of it happening.”

Drivers clearly can cease that from occurring themselves. They’re those with the steering wheels and those who management the brake pedals.

“You just hope that you’re not in those situations,” Larson mentioned. “NASCAR’s had a rough go of it here lately … and hopefully we can get the momentum shifted to NASCAR’s side a little bit.”

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Considering out loud

Whereas the main focus is on the playoffs this time of yr, the staff quietly displaying indicators of enchancment for 2023 is Kaulig Racing.

AJ Allmendinger completed ninth every week in the past at Las Vegas after which was third at Homestead, signaling that he might be an element subsequent season when he goes full-time Cup racing. These weren’t fluke finishes for Allmendinger and the Kaulig staff.

Everybody is aware of Allmendinger will likely be a risk on street programs. However for him to point out this power on the intermediate ovals is spectacular.

His teammate, Justin Haley, noticed a string of seven top-20 finishes snap at Homestead, however he’s displaying progress as properly.

Social highlight

Stat of the day

Brad Keselowski earned his first top-5 end of the season with a fifth place at Homestead.

They mentioned it

“Amazing race car.” — Kyle Larson after his Homestead win

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports activities. He has spent many years protecting motorsports, together with the previous 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting Information, NASCAR Scene journal and The (Daytona Seashore) Information-Journal. Comply with him on Twitter @bobpockrass, and join the FOX Sports activities NASCAR Publication with Bob Pockrass.

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