NASCAR has handed down five penalties for a flurry of rear-window violations this season, hitting teams with fines, points deductions and suspensions to key personnel.
After the most recent — the third such sanction in the last two weekends — those penalties will soon get tougher.
The Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 team was the latest to draw an L1-grade punishment, absorbing penalties Tuesday for a caved-in roof and rear-window area on the car driven by Kyle Larson in last weekend’s event at Kansas Speedway.
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With inspections and infractions becoming a growing part of the circuit’s week-to-week operations, Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, said the sanctioning body is exploring more rigid penalties for improper alterations to the rear-window area.
“This issue with the rear windows is really bad for all of us,” Miller told NASCAR.com. “It’s bad for the sport, it’s bad for the broadcasters … it’s bad for the teams, and the reason why this one is so bad is the optics of it. It’s like everybody sees these things. They’re out in the open and it gets all of the negative wheels spinning in directions that we don’t need them spinning in.
“So what we plan on doing is, moving forward, any of these rear window penalties, we’re probably going to ramp it up to the high end of the L1 scale. We’ve kind of been in the middle and if we need to ramp it up further than that to where we get this under control and stop (this), then we’re prepared to go further. So yeah, we will change our stance on this because this needs to stop.”
So far this season, penalties for such violations have fallen in the middle range of the NASCAR Rule Book’s L1 guidelines, which span fines of $25,000 to $75,000, car chief suspensions from one to three races and points deductions from 10 to 40 points.
Miller has spent part of his career on the opposite end of rule book enforcement, serving as a crew chief for multiple teams before joining NASCAR’s competition department. The trend of searching for aerodynamic advantages in the rear window area may be a relatively recent development, but the ongoing practice of teams trying to exploit gray areas in the rules is not.
“There’s performance there, so they’re going to try to get it as close to the edge as they can,” Miller says. “When you do that, you always run the risk of it running afoul when things happen out there on the race track. It’s like the dynamics of the race track are fairly hard to predict and when you’re pushing the envelope with the strength of that structure, things can go wrong in a hurry.”