In the latest example of embracing change as it pertains to historical precedent, NASCAR on Friday night announced rule book revisions that cover personal behavior on and off the track for NASCAR competitors in the Sprint Cup, XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series.
For the first time in its history, NASCAR will have specific penalties for specific behavioral infractions. The comprehensive rule book changes cover everything from deliberately wrecking another competitor on track to fights between drivers, using racial slurs, DUI arrests and publicly criticizing how NASCAR is run.
The sanctioning body distributed the rule book changes Friday night at Daytona International Speedway. Those changes are effective immediately.
“What you’ll see is an effort by the sanctioning body to improve the level of transparency within the realms of how competitors’ actions are dealt with on the track and off the track,” said Jim Cassidy, senior vice president, racing operations at NASCAR. “What you’ll see is what I believe is an evolution of the rules. Across the board, we’re becoming more transparent to competitors, for all the participants involved, all the stakeholders involved and for everybody to understand what the playing field is.”
Cassidy said NASCAR took a “significant look at its entire competition model, and as a result of that look made wholesale changes in the way we do things. As part of that, we also improved a number of things and processes to govern the sport.”
These changes were not specifically in reaction to last year’s wreck and retaliation between Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano, Cassidy said, but they will spell out clear and specific penalties if such a situation happens again
Cassidy said the rule book changes “include a deterrent system that provided more guidance to the competitor base as to what the reaction would be from NASCAR in the event a competitor crosses the line from a technical violation. And what I see is this is an extension of that process.”
The rule book changes on member conduct are in section 12.8, which begins thusly:
“NASCAR membership is a privilege. With that privilege comes certain benefits, responsibilities and obligations. Correct and proper conduct, both on and off the race track, is part of a Member’s responsibilities. A Member’s actions can reflect upon the sport as a whole and on other NASCAR Members. Ideally, NASCAR Members are role models for the many fans who follow this sport, regardless of the type of license a Member may hold, or the specific Series in which a Member may participate. Therefore, NASCAR views a Member’s conduct, both on and off the race track, which might constitute a behavioral rules violations under this Rule Book with great importance.”
Section 12.8.1 goes on to explain specific infractions:
.a Member action(s) that could result in a mild response such as a meeting, warning, probation:
● Heat-of-the-moment actions or reactions, either on or off the race track;
● Member-to-Member confrontation(s) without physical violence (e.g. shoving match, shouting match, or general “venting”).
.b Member actions that could result in a $10,000-$50,000 fine and/or probation:
● Disparaging the sport and/or NASCAR’s leadership;
● Verbal abuse of a NASCAR Official, media members, fans, etc.;
● Intentionally damaging another vehicle under yellow or red flag conditions or on pit road with no one around.
.c Member actions that could result in a loss of 25-50 Championship driver and Team Owner points and/or $50,000-$100,000 fine and/or one Race suspension, indefinite suspension, or termination:
● Physical confrontation with a NASCAR Official, media members, fans, etc.;
● Member-to-Member confrontation(s) with physical violence and other violent manifestations such as significant threat(s) and/or abuse and/or endangerment;
● Attempting to manipulate the outcome of the Race or championship;
● Intentionally wrecking another vehicle, whether or not that vehicle is removed from Competition as a result.
.d Member actions that could result in a loss of 50-100 Championship driver and Team Owner points and/or $150,000-$200,000 fine and/or two Race suspension, indefinite suspension, or termination:
● Targeting another driver who is in a highly vulnerable position, such as already stopped with window net lowered; or whose vehicle has already had one or more of its safety systems affected by crash damage, such as an exposed fuel cell, damaged roll cage, and so on.
● Premeditatedly removing another Competitor from championship contention in a dangerous manner when not racing for position based on the available evidence and specific circumstances of the incident.
● Without limiting the scope, examples could include a Competitor “waiting” for another Competitor and then taking action; taking a trajectory with the vehicle not normally taken such as from pit exit directly up into a vehicle in the racing groove; clearly forcing another Competitor into the wall in an abrupt and unambiguous manner; and so on.
.e Member actions that could result in a fine and/or indefinite suspension or termination:
● Public statement and/or communication that criticizes, ridicules, or otherwise disparages another person based upon that person’s race, color, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, age, or handicapping condition.
● Being charged with or convicted of significant criminal violations (e.g. Domestic Violence, Trafficking, Assault), or having had determinations rendered by criminal or civil authorities that in NASCAR’s judgment necessitate action. NASCAR will not pre-judge guilt or innocence in the criminal or civil legal system, or the guilt or innocence of the Member, but rather review each matter in its own context and circumstances and with regards to its potential effects upon the sport.
.f Factors that NASCAR may consider when reviewing a matter might include:
● When and where the incident(s) occurred;
● The perceivable or potential ramifications to others and/or to the sport;
● Available empirical data;
● Member’s past history;
● Possible effects to fans, safety workers, crew members;
● Any extenuating circumstances;
● Was the explanation(s) plausible given the circumstances;
● Was there an indication of genuine remorse or attempts to work things out with the other party(s) in a civil manner; and so on.