To Bob Pokulas
FOX Sports NASCAR Writer
William Byron appealed Thursday against a 25-point penalty issued by NASCAR following the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sept. 25, 2020, in the semi-finals of the Cup Series playoffs. It put me in a better position to advance to the round.
An appeals committee increased Byron’s fine from $50,000 to $100,000, but withdrew a point penalty that would have had a big impact on the playoffs. The three-man NASCAR Appeals Committee did not provide a reason for the penalty change, as is normal procedure.
Byron finished 10th to 7th in the standings 11 points below the cutline and 14 points above the cutline heading into Sunday’s Charlotte Motor Speedway road course race. .
Related: NASCAR Elimination Scenario: What Each Driver Needs to Move Forward in Charlotte
The four drivers with the lowest points without winning a round are eliminated from championship contention.
Austin Sindrick When Chase Briscoe They were tied for eighth in the pre-penalty standings, but are 12 points behind their final destination, Daniel Suárez, who sits in eighth place. Christopher Bell Going from 33 points below the cutline to 45 points below, the situation that already has to be won becomes even more important.
But this change doesn’t just affect what’s below the cut line. It also influences those above the cutline in terms of what they have to do to earn a spot, no matter what anyone else does.
Ryan Blaney Can clinch with 35 points (2nd place finish instead of no stage points) — the only driver to enter the race with a finish that can automatically advance him without stage points.
Ross Chastain 40 points are required. Hamlin needs 47 points. Joey Logano When Kyle Larson 50 points required. They won’t know where they can finish until after Sunday’s second stage.
Byron was initially penalized for carefully spinning Hamlin in Texas. NASCAR did not penalize Byron during the race. Officials then said Martin had been paying attention to his junior’s car Truex (cause of the warning) and didn’t realize Byron had spun Hamlin.
Byron and Hendrick Motorsports argued that the penalty was too harsh for something intended to dab a bumper not designed to spin someone. Docking a lap or two or something would have given you a chance to score a spot (and points) before the race was over. Had he parked for the move, he would have lost 23 points.
“They could put him behind,” team owner Rick Hendrick said on Sunday. “I don’t know why they waited and did nothing. He wasn’t going to spin him. He was going to hit him, but William had a pretty clean record.
“I think 25 points in the playoffs is way overkill.”
Bob Pockrass runs NASCAR for FOX Sports. Over the decades, including the last 30 Daytona 500s, he has worked for ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine, The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal, and more. Follow him on Twitter @Bob PoclasSign up for Bob Poklas’ FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter.
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