What Are The Penalties In NASCAR?

Every sport has rules, there are Red Cards in Football, Violations in tennis and in NASCAR there are the dreaded penalties. It is rare for a race that lasts 500 miles or more to go through to the end without penalties being issued to one team or other.

They can be very confusing, and difficult to follow and certainly bring anguish to fans if its there driver who is on the wrong end of the NASCAR rule book. So what are the Penalties in NASCAR?

NASCAR Penalties can be placed on teams for rules violations before during and after the race. Infringements in the Pit Lanes like speeding, overly aggressive driving, unlawful use of fuel or car modifications will incur L1 or L2 penalties from drive throughs to monetary fines, race day bans or points dedications.

We look at the different areas of a NASCAR Race that can be subject to penalties in the article below. We cover Pit lane penalties which are the most common, fuel and wheel, Car modifications, and aggressive driving penalties.

What are the Pit Lane Penalties in NASCAR?

The pit road can cause a variety of penalties to be handed out during or before NASCAR Cup Series races. Each and every driver has to use the pit road, and so the drivers and their teams have to be careful to avoid any penalties when using it.

  • A driver will be forced to restart at the end of the line for the next restart if they either pit before the pit road is open or pit out of order. This is outlined in section 10-4B of the NASCAR regulations.
  • Drivers will be forced to restart and the end of the line, if the offence occurs during a caution, or given a drive-through penalty, if the offence occurs during green flag running, if they do not enter the pit road in single file or speed while entering or exiting pit road.
  • They will get the same penalty if they make a pass on the inside when entering the pit road, or if they cross more than three pit boxes when entering their own.
  • They will also get this penalty if they use more than two air wrenches during one pit stop, roll a tire beyond the centre of pit road, hand push the car more than three pit boxes to restart it or go above the blend line when exiting the pits.
  • Drivers will receive a Stop and Go Penalty if their team remove equipment from the assigned pit area or they speed on pit road when serving a pass-through penalty.
  • Drivers will receive a One Lap penalty if they make a pit stop outside of their assigned pit box.

What are the Aggressive Driving Penalties in NASCAR?

NASCAR have some rules regarding dangerous driving, which they now define as ‘Aggressive Driving’. NASCAR can impose an in-race penalty, in the form of a time penalty or lap penalty, for aggressive driving offenses. NASCAR drivers can also get a penalty for intentionally causing a caution period, which could be seen as manipulating the result of the race.

The penalties for aggressive driving can be very severe, which Justin Haley saw first hand at Pocono, where he was given a two-lap hold penalty for pushing Riley Herbst into the wall. This penalty meant that he had to stop on pit road for two full laps of racing.

  • The drivers can also get a penalty for acting in an aggressive manner. NASCAR officials have the power to penalise drivers for verbal abuse directed at them.
  • The verbal abuse of a NASCAR official could see a $10,000 to $15,000 fine, which would also be given if they criticized the sport in the media.
  • A loss of 25 to 50 points and a fine of $50,000 to $100,000 could be given if a driver physically confronts a NASCAR official, media member or a fan.
  • This could also be given for intentional wrecking or race manipulation.
  • A two-race ban, as well as a large loss of points and a big fine, can be given to drivers who intentionally remove another driver from championship contention when not racing for position.
  • Penalties can also be given at NASCAR’s discretion if there a seemed to be safety violations or a driver ignores a black flag.

What are the Car Issue Penalties in NASCAR?

The NASCAR cars are examined during at-track inspections which occur after races. The inspections often occur at the NASCAR R&D Center in North Carolina, and any problems found can result in either an L1 or an L2 penalty.

What are the L1 and L2 Penalties in NASCAR?

An L1 penalty means that the driver or team will be given a points deduction ranging between 10 and 40 points. The crew chief and other team members can also be given a suspension for one to three races and a fine which can range from $25,000 to $75,000.

An L2 penalty is more severe, and it carries a points deduction of 75 points. The crew chief or other team members are also suspended for six races, and a very large fine of $100,000 to $200,000 is given out.

These L2 penalties can be increased if any prior violations are found or a trend of breaking the rules is uncovered. An L1 penalty can be handed out if a car fails to reach the minimum weight, parts are not installed properly or made adjustable when they are not supposed to be, the chassis is illegally modified, or any parts of the vehicle fail the meet the specifications.

L2 penalties can be given out if unauthorised engine performance enhancements are used, modified or altered tyres are used or private track or wind tunnel testing is carried out without permission.

What are the Fuel and Wheels Penalties in NASCAR?

NASCAR uses a single fuel type across all cars, Sunoco Green E15 (called that because the fuel is actually green) and monitors the stocks crs and teams to make sure that all teams don’t do anything that may give their performance a boost.

A disqualification can be given out if unauthorised parts related to the fuel system are used if the fuel cell is compromised from a safety perspective or if unauthorised fuel storage capacity is used.

In addition, anybody that modifies the Electronic Fuel Injection system, or the fuel itself, can be disqualified. Improper fuelling can also result in a pass-through penalty.

This was seen at the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta in 2022 where race leader Matt Kenseth was penalised for a pit stop on the 117th lap.

Tire changes during penalties can also cause issues that can result in penalties. Penalties can also be handed out if the fuel filler or equipment is tossed or thrown during a pit stop.

If a tire is deemed to not be in control during a pit stop a penalty will be handed out. A tire is deemed to be in control if the tire does not roll into the traffic lane in the pit road, if the removed tire does not return to the outside half of the pit box or if the tire is handled in a safe manner by not bouncing or throwing the tire.

Rolling a tire beyond the center of the pit road can result in a drive-through penalty or an enforced start at the End of the Line. An L2 penalty can also be given if the team tamper with the three ‘no man’s land’ areas on the technical areas of the tires.

Final Lap

We have highlighted the more common NASCAR penalties that you may see during a race day, and there are certainly a lot in the rule book. Some concentrate on safety, some on fairness and equity bit all attempt to make the sport better for all drivers an fans. Whether they succeed or not often depends on who is receiving the penalty!






Al lifelong Motor Racing Fan, with a particular love of NASCAR and IndyCar racing. Been in and out of cars of varying speeds since i was a child and sharing what i have learnt here.

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