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NASCAR revamps its penalty structure, appeals process

<p>Daytona Beach, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - NASCAR has made substantial enhancements to its penalty structure and appeals process, which goes into effect for the 2014 season.</p>

Daytona Beach, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - NASCAR has made substantial enhancements to its penalty structure and appeals process, which goes into effect for the 2014 season.

Referring to it as a "Deterrence System," NASCAR officials said its new penalty structure will be easily understood and specifically lays out exactly what disciplinary action will be taken on the type of technical infraction. The list of penalties begins with warnings and then includes six penalty levels. P1 is the least significant, and P6 is the most significant.

According to a release from NASCAR issued on Tuesday:

- Warnings are issued instead of penalties for certain types of minor, first- time infractions.

- P1 penalties may result from multiple warnings to the same team.

- P2 penalties may include but are not limited to violations such as hollow components, expiration of certain safety certification or improper installation of a safety feature, or minor bracket and fasteners violations.

- P3 penalty options may include but are not limited to violations such as unauthorized parts, measurement failures, parts that fail their intended use, or coil spring violation.

- P4 level infractions may include but are not limited to violations such as devices that circumvent NASCAR templates and measuring equipment, or unapproved added weight.

- P5 level may include but are not limited to violations such as combustion- enhancing additives in the oil, oil filter, air filter element or devices, systems, omissions, etc., that affect the normal airflow over the body.

- P6 level may include but are not limited to violations such as affecting the internal workings and performance of the engine, modifying the pre-certified chassis, traction control or affecting EFI (electronic fuel injection) or the ECU (engine control unit).

"Our goal is to be more effective, fair and transparent in both areas, and we believe that the system is tailored to fit the needs of the sport, essentially building a firewall between the race teams, their sponsors, and the OEMs (original equipment manufacturers)," Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president of racing operations, said during a teleconference on Tuesday. "It's never our intent to penalize, but in order to keep the playing field fair for everyone, we recognize that strong rules need to be in place.

"We certainly believe we've done a good job governing the sport in the past but always believe we can get better and benefit everyone involved, especially as we went out and talked to the industry."

The 2014 NASCAR Rule Book will explain to competitors how and why the sanctioning body issues penalties as well as the factors considered when determining a penalty.

"The new deterrent system is going to provide a clear path for our competitors to fully understand the boundaries while shoring up some gray areas which may have been in existence, again, all in an effort to be as transparent as possible," O'Donnell added.

NASCAR also noted that lower P levels list penalty options from which the sanctioning body may select (fines or points) while higher P levels are an all-inclusive combination of multiple penalty elements (points and fine and suspension, etc.).

At the highest three levels of the system, if a rules infraction is discovered in post-race inspection, the one or more additional penalty elements are added on top of the standard prescribed penalty.

Repeat offenses by the same car are addressed by means of a "recurrence multiplier," For example, if a P4 penalty was received and a second P4 or higher infraction occurs in the same season, the subsequent penalty increases 50 percent above the normal standard.

NASCAR said suspensions are explained in greater detail in its deterrence system. NASCAR will continue to handle behavioral infractions on a case-by- case basis.

"We believe the new system is easily understood and specifically lays out exactly what disciplinary action will be taken depending upon the type of technical infraction," NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said. "More importantly, we believe we have strengthened our system to ensure even more competitive racing."

In restructuring its appeal process, NASCAR announced the appointment of Bryan Moss as final appeals officer for the sport. Moss, the former president of Gulfstream Aerospace, is replacing John Middlebrook, who had been in the role previously known as the chief appellate officer.

Among those changes to NASCAR's appeal process include:

- Clearly identifying the procedural rights of NASCAR members.

- Detailing responsibilities of parties throughout the process.

- Allowing parties the option to submit summaries on issues before the appeals panel.

- Allowing NASCAR members named in the penalty to be present during the entire hearing.

- Appeals administrator is not allowed to be present during panel deliberations.

- Creating a clear expedited appeals procedure when necessary.

- Changing the name of the appeals panel to The National Motorsports Appeals Panel.

The new appeals process will continue to provide two tiers for resolving disputes. On the first level before a three-member appeals panel, NASCAR has the burden of showing that a penalty violation has occurred. On the second and final level, only a NASCAR member is allowed to appeal, and they have the burden of showing the final appeals officer that the panel decision was incorrect.

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