NASCAR changes the appeals process, ruling that the appellate panel cannot remove elements of a penalty entirely

NASCAR on Thursday announced an update to its rulebook that changes the sport’s appeals process and returns the powers of the National Motorsports Appeals Panel to the sanctioning body after recent controversy over removing elements of permanent penalties. The rule change updates the language in Section 10.5.2 of the rulebook.

The NASCAR rule book now states that the National Motorsports Appeals Panel and its Final Appeals Officer “may not entirely remove any element of an originally imposed penalty,” meaning that while the Appellate Panel may adjust a penalty, changes are kept to a minimum must and maximum ranges listed in the rule book.

For example, if a penalty includes point deductions, fines, and suspensions, the appeals panel must uphold all three of those elements if the panel finds that the offending party broke NASCAR rules. All elements of a penalty can still be removed if a penalty is completely removed.

The rule change is a direct response to the Appeals Committee Hendrick Motorsports recently had all points penalties lifted for illegal hood louvers at Phoenix Raceway, despite the panel’s decision that Hendrick had broken NASCAR rules. The verdict was not publicly to NASCAR’s liking, as harsh point penalties are said to be a major deterrent for teams as the sanctioning body seeks to prevent them from modifying single-source parts for the next-generation car.

“I think we’ve always set up the rules to be transparent and consistent,” NASCAR Chief Operating Officer Steve O’Donnell told “So our penalties have been consistent, we have given consistent penalties. We were surprised as I think a lot of fans were in on the decision, especially with the Hendrick [appeal] take all the points. So we realize that our system had a bug. And if someone was found to have broken the rule, we explained that this new car was all about a culture change in the garage for us, and points must be part of any future penalty.

The sanctioning body also acted in the interests of transparency. The rule book now states that the sanctioning body has the right to publicize the reasoning of the appeals committee or final appeals officer for modifying or rescinding a penalty. Additionally, NASCAR will now resume the long-standing practice of displaying unauthorized or confiscated parts and parts in the garage area for other teams to see and inspect.

It was also noted that NASCAR’s process for selecting Appellate Body members — a rotation of three members selected from an industry pool — may continue to be evaluated in the future.

Earlier this week, the Appellate Body made two different decisions that were more consistent with other penalties imposed in the Phoenix fallout. The Appellate Body upheld a penalty for Team No. 31 Kaulig Racing for illegally modified hood louvers, only reducing the points penalty from 100 to 75 points. The panel also upheld a 25-point, $50,000 penalty for Denny Hamlin for admitting on a podcast that he had intentionally wall-rammed Ross Chastain late in the race.

Chris Estrada

Chris Estrada is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Chris Estrada joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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