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May 2, 2023

National Motorsports Appeals Panel upholds L1-level penalties for No. 3 RCR team

Austin Dillon drives
James Gilbert
Getty Images

The National Motorsports Appeals Panel ruled Tuesday to uphold the L1-level penalties issued to the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing team, levied for violating the overall assembled vehicle rules related to the underwing assembly and hardware for the April 16 NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway.

The $75,000 fine to crew chief Keith Rodden was upheld by the three-person panel, as was his two-race suspension. Rodden was permitted to delay his suspension through the appeal process, but he and the team elected to serve the suspension instead and sat sidelined for the events at Talladega Superspeedway and Dover Motor Speedway. Justin Alexander, who previously served as Dillon’s crew chief, returned to fill the position on an interim basis in Rodden’s absence.

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The team and driver Austin Dillon maintain their loss of 60 points and five playoff points, respectively. Dillon currently sits 31st in the driver standings with finishes of 38th (Talladega, crash) and 27th (Dover) in the past two races.

Dillon is in the midst of his 10th season as a full-time competitor for his grandfather’s team with four career victories to date, including the 2018 Daytona 500 and the 2017 Coca-Cola 600. A champion in both the Craftsman Truck and Xfinity series, Dillon scored a walk-off win at Daytona in last summer’s regular-season finale to pounce into the playoffs for the fifth time in his career.

Sections 14.1 C&E&Q, covering overall vehicle assembly, and 14.6.1 A&B were cited in the original penalty report as the particular rules violated. Sections 14.6.1 A&B refer to the specific underwing assembly mounting and hardware.

On the panel for Tuesday’s hearing were J. Kirk Russell, Lake Speed and Kevin Whitaker.

In reaching the above decision, the panel provided the following explanation: “As submitted the nuts are not a thread locking device — they are connected and part of the turn buckle. The nuts do not lock the assembly. Therefore, the assembly has been modified.”

RCR released a statement on Tuesday that they will not appeal the panel’s decision.