Each new Sprint Cup Series season always brings changes and it seems that this column has done nothing but report those changes since the beginning of the new year. The 2014 season will have a new qualifying procedure and the system that has been used in the Chase will be replaced with a format that will give four drivers the opportunity in the last race of the season to win the title.
Until this season it was hard to say what a penalty for a technical violation might bring to an offending team. NASCAR’s penalty system in the past had no specific sanctions for certain offenses. Offenders were forced to wait to see just what sanction they would receive for their violation.
All of that is set to change once the season gets underway next week at Daytona. NASCAR unveiled its revamped Deterrence System that classifies six different levels of penalties. Specific offenses will now carry specific sanctions that can range from a loss of practice time for minor infractions all the way up to a 150-point deduction for the most serious. The new system also allows for the governing body to ramp up the penalties on repeat offenders by the use of a multiplier that could increase penalties by 50 percent.
The new Deterrence System allows for a warning to be given to teams, but repeat warnings will result in the violation being bumped up to another level. Level P1 carries penalties that range from a deduction in practice time, keeping the car in the hauler for a specified time at the beginning of an event, and even community service.
A violation such as a bracket violation or the use of a hollow component in an effort to cut down on the car’s weight will fall under the P2 category. The guilty team could see a loss of 10 points, a fine up to $25,000, the possibility of suspensions being handed out to the crew chief and other team members for at least one race, and probation for the guilty parties.
P3 is the category that will include the use of unauthorized parts or a violation with the coil springs. The penalties increase to a loss of 15 points, a fine up to $50,000, suspensions for crew chiefs and other team members for at least one race, and probation for the guilty parties. The more serious violations will begin to fall in the next three levels.
P4 violations will include anything that attempts to circumvent the templates. The point loss jumps to 25, and the fines will range between $75,000 and $125,000. Crew chiefs will be suspended for three races plus any non-championship events during that span. In addition, the crew chief will be placed on probation until the end of the calendar year or a six-month span. An additional loss of 10 points and $25,000 may be added after the post-race inspection.
Offenses such as oil additives and devices that effect normal airflow will fall in the P5 level and as you would expect, the penalties continue to get stiffer. The loss of points increases to 50 and the fines jump to between $75,000 and $125,000. The crew chief suspension is increased to six races and any non- championship event during that span. The post-race inspection additions may include but are not limited to loss of any of the benefits of the starting or finishing position in the race, and the loss of an additional 25 points.
The most serious level, P6, includes an offense such as engine modifications or the use of nitrous oxide. The severity of the penalties reflects what NASCAR takes as its most serious offenses. The point loss can be as much as 150 and the fines will range between $150,000 and $200,000. The crew chief suspension and probation is the same as P5, but the post-race inspection additions can include the loss of benefits from the finishing position, and the loss of all the points earned in the event.
Wins will not be taken away for any infraction, but NASCAR will not use them for either seeding or to get a driver further into the Chase