By Toby Christie, NASCAR Editor
Over the last several weeks of the “regular season” many teams were busted for failing post-race inspection in the LIS (Laser Inspection Station). Going forward over the next 10 races, if those teams have the same infraction it will come at a much higher cost.
Wednesday, NASCAR announced changes to the severity of penalties in the Chase for teams who fail LIS inspection and have loose or missing lug nuts after the race.
Now NASCAR officials have the power to strip race winners of the benefits that come with their wins. Currently under the Chase format, if you win a race during one of the elimination rounds you automatically advance to the next round. If you fail technical inspection, not so fast. You’re going to lose points, money and your automatic advancement through NASCAR’s championship Chase will be halted.
Before this rule book stiffening, the penalty for loose or missing lug nuts at the end of a race, resulted in a one-race suspension and a monetary fine for crew chiefs, while failed trips through the LIS had resulted in the loss of points and a crew chief fine.
A failure at the LIS Station will now qualify as a P4-level penalty if the car fails rear toe measurements on both sides of the car. The P4 penalty will come with a deduction of 35 points in the owner and driver standings. Crew chiefs will also suffer a three-race suspension and they will be fined a whopping $65,000.
“The changes are made to assure that we have a level playing field and make sure that there’s not a carrot out there for the team to have excessive violations when it comes to lug nuts and the LIS post-race measurements,” Scott Miller, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition, said in a NASCAR.com video. “As we worked with those penalties during the season we realized we probably needed to have a little bit more in place as Chase time rolled around.”
Penalties will be the exact same for these infractions in the Xfinity Series, but the crew chief fine will be $20,000.
The LIS rule change doesn’t matter for Camping World Truck Series competitors, as that method of inspection isn’t utilized in that series.
How big of an impact will these new rules have on the championship? That is to be determined, but several drivers have had issues in the post-race LIS station this year. Among the notable LIS flunkers this season were championship contenders Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth and Kyle Larson.