William Byron's 25-point penalty has been overturned by a NASCAR appeals panel.
Hendrick Motorsports’ appeal of Byron’s penalty was successful on Thursday after it lobbied that Byron didn’t deserve a 25-point penalty for spinning Denny Hamlin under caution during the Texas Cup Series race on Sep. 25. While Byron’s fine for his spin was increased to $100,000, he no longer has a 25-point penalty and is in a much better position to advance to the third round of the playoffs.
Before the appeal, Byron had 3,058 points and was 11 points out of the top eight. Now Byron enters Sunday’s race at the Charlotte Roval with 3,083 points and is seventh in the points standings. He’s 14 points ahead of Austin Cindric and Chase Briscoe in ninth. The top eight drivers in the standings after Sunday’s race will advance to the third round of the playoffs.
Byron spun Hamlin under caution after he was upset with the lack of room Hamlin gave him off Turn 2 while they were racing under green flag conditions just a few laps before. NASCAR didn’t allow Hamlin to get his spot back in the top five after the spin while Byron kept his track position. NASCAR inexplicably said after the race that it didn’t see Byron spin Hamlin despite Hamlin’s car ending up in the grass and his team shouting on the radio for Byron to be penalized.
To make up for missing Byron’s spin of Hamlin in real time, NASCAR said days after the race that Byron had been penalized 25 points and fined $50,000. Had NASCAR parked Byron for the rest of the race after his spin of Hamlin, he would have scored 23 points fewer than he did by being allowed to keep his spot and finish the race. Hamlin finished 10th at Texas; he likely would have finished a handful or more of spots higher had NASCAR put his car back in the right spot in the running order.
Instead, Hamlin ends up losing points from what happened at Texas while Byron faces no points ramifications at all.
NASCAR’s messy stretch
The officiating disaster surrounding Byron’s actions at Texas compounds what’s been a terrible few weeks for NASCAR as drivers have openly questioned the safety of the Cup Series car. Three full-time drivers are set to miss Sunday’s race at the Roval because of injuries sustained in crashes.
The Byron situation also underlines the need for serious procedural overhauls for NASCAR heading into the 2023 season in addition to needed safety measures to ensure drivers are as safe as possible while on the track. NASCAR vice president Scott Miller said after the Texas race that NASCAR officials didn’t have access to in-car camera feeds that showed Byron running into Hamlin even though those video feeds were available on NASCAR’s own website and the sanctioning body tweeted out a clip of Byron spinning Hamlin moments after Hamlin’s car ended up in the grass.
That inability to access widely-available replay feeds should have been rectified before last week’s race at Talladega.
Byron’s appeal should have been heard before the Talladega race as well. NASCAR should implement an expedited appeals process for penalties that impact the postseason. Byron entered that Talladega race 11th in the standings and left 10th. Now he's provisionally in the third round of the playoffs ahead of the final race of the second round while Cindric and Briscoe went from being tied for the final playoff spot to 12 points out less than 72 hours before the race at the Roval.
Updated points standings after Byron’s appeal
1. Chase Elliott (won Talladega)
2. Ryan Blaney, 3,101 points
3. Ross Chastain, 3,097
4. Denny Hamlin, 3,090
5. Joey Logano, 3,087
6. Kyle Larson, 3,087
7. William Byron, 3,083
8. Daniel Suarez, 3,081
9. Austin Cindric, 3,069
10. Chase Briscoe, 3,069
11. Christopher Bell, 3,036
12. Alex Bowman, 3,015 (out at Charlotte due to concussion)