The National Motorsports Appeals Panel has recently upheld the L1-level penalties for the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing team. This penalty was imposed on the team for violating the overall assembled vehicle rules related to the underwing assembly and hardware during the April 16 NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway.
The penalties include a $75,000 fine for crew chief Keith Rodden and his two-race suspension. Rodden chose to serve his suspension instead of delaying it through the appeal process. As a result, he and the team were sidelined for the events at Talladega Superspeedway and Dover Motor Speedway. Justin Alexander, Dillon’s former crew chief, returned to fill the position on an interim basis in Rodden’s absence.
The team and driver Austin Dillon maintain their loss of 60 points and five playoff points, respectively. Dillon is currently ranked 31st in the driver standings with finishes of 38th and 27th in the last two races.
Dillon has been competing as a full-time racer for his grandfather’s team for 10 seasons and has four career victories to date. This includes 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 secure his place in the playoffs for the fifth time in his career.
The panel cited Sections 14.1 C&E&Q, covering overall vehicle assembly, and 14.6.1 A&B, referring to the specific underwing assembly mounting and hardware, in the original penalty report as the rules violated.
J. Kirk Russell, Lake Speed, and Kevin Whitaker served on the panel for the hearing held on Tuesday. The panel provided an explanation for their decision, stating that “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.”
On Tuesday, RCR released a statement confirming that they would not appeal the panel’s decision.
The upheld penalties serve as a strong reminder to all NASCAR Cup Series teams and crew members to adhere to the rules and regulations set forth by the governing body. The penalties issued by NASCAR are designed to ensure a level playing field for all competitors and maintain the sport’s integrity.
In conclusion, the National Motorsports Appeals Panel’s decision to uphold the L1-level penalties for the No. 3 RCR team is a reminder to all NASCAR Cup Series teams and crew members to remain vigilant in following the rules and regulations set by the governing body. The upheld penalties may have a negative impact on the team’s performance in the short term, but the team and driver can regain their lost points and playoff points through strong performances in upcoming races.