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Appeals panel upholds penalties to Cole Custer, No. 41 team

Marty Snider, Jeff Burton, and Kyle Petty react to the fine and suspension levied against Cole Custer and the No. 41 team after some late-race activity at the Roval and debate whether it's a manipulation of the playoffs.

The National Motorsports Appeals Panel upheld the penalties issued to Cole Custer and his No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing team for attempting to help teammate Chase Briscoe at the end of the Charlotte Roval playoff race.

NASCAR fined Custer $100,000 and docked him 50 points. Crew chief Mike Shiplett was indefinitely suspended and fined $100,000. Stewart-Haas Racing was penalized 50 owner points for the No. 41 car.

The team can appeal Thursday’s decision to the National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer. The team has not stated if it will do so.

At issue was Custer dramatically slowing on the backstretch of the final lap as Briscoe battled for position behind him.

During the last lap, Shiplett told Custer on the team’s radio: “I think we’ve got a flat tire. Slow up. I think we’ve got a flat tire. Check up. Check up.”
Briscoe was listed in the final transfer spot via a tiebreaker over Kyle Larson on the final lap while battling Austin Dillon and Erik Jones for position. As they headed down the backstretch, Dillon, Briscoe and Jones came upon Custer’s car, which slowed and impeded Dillon.

Briscoe went to the inside and shot by Dillon and Custer on the backstretch chicane. Briscoe beat Larson by two points for the final transfer spot to the Round of 8.

Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, said earlier this month that the comments by Shiplett proved that Custer’s action on the backstretch was deliberate.

“The data was pretty telling, and then we got to the audio and had the crew chief telling the driver that ‘I think you’ve got a flat, check up, check up, check up’ when he couldn’t even see the car or have any idea whatsoever that the car might have a flat,” Miller said. “Pretty telling as to what went on there. That coupled with the data and the video … nothing contradicted that that was done deliberately by those individuals. We were forced to react.”

NASCAR cited Custer and his team for violating Section 5.5 of the Cup Rule Book and failing to race at 100% of their ability ”with the goal of achieving the best possible finishing position in the Event.”

That section also states that “Any Competitor(s) who takes action with the intent to Artificially Alter the finishing positions of the Event or encourages, persuades or induces others to Artificially Alter the finishing positions of the Event shall be subject to a penalty from NASCAR. … “Artificially Alter” shall be defined as actions by any Competitor(s) that show or suggest that the Competitor(s) did not race at 100% of their ability for the purpose of changing finishing positions in the Event, in NASCAR’s sole discretion.”

The National Motorsports Appeals Panel stated that Custer and his team violated the rule set forth in the penalty notice and that the panel upheld the penalty issued by NASCAR.

The panel consisted of Dixon Johnston, Bill Mullis and Dale Pinilis.