NASCAR increases penalty for unsecured ballast

Unsecured ballast (lead weight) that becomes detached from a race car as well as the loss of a wheel or wheels due to improper installation will now result in a mandatory minimum four-race suspension for specific team personnel, according to a bulletin issued Wednesday by the sanctioning body.

The infractions are P3 level penalties under the 2015 NASCAR Deterrence Policy. Previously the length of suspension was not specified, but listed as “for one or more races.”

According to the bulletin, the loss of a wheel or wheels due to improper installation would result in a minimum four-race suspension for the crew chief, tire changer and tire carrier of the lost wheel or wheels.

For the loss or separation of ballast weight, the crew chief, car chief and head engineer would receive four-race suspensions.

Disciplinary action for P3 penalties may also include:

• Loss of 15 championship owner and driver points and/or

• A monetary fine (varies depending on series) and/ro

• Probation until the end of the calendar year for the crew chief and/or any other team members (as determined by NASCAR) or six months if the period following the notice of the penalty spans across two seasons.

Because of the danger created by the loss of ballast or a wheel, NASCAR considers the violation a safety issue. The four-race mandatory suspension is for a first offense.

At least two incidents of unsecured ballast have occurred this season, most notably at Iowa Speedway in May when XFINITY Series driver Jamie Dick was struck in the helmet by a weight that fell off the entry being driven by Ross Chastain. Dick was not injured.

The No. 97 entry with XFINITY Series driver Peyton Sellers was also penalized this year for an improperly attached weight that fell out of Seller’s car at Dover International Speedway in May.