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Term ‘Encumbered finish’ becomes a phrase of the past to NASCAR


SPARTA, KY - JULY 08: during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts at Kentucky Speedway on July 8, 2017 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

Brian Lawdermilk

NASCAR issued a rules bulletin Friday and the phrase “encumbered finish” was crossed off in a section on penalties, marking the end of a word that was reviled by fans and many in the sport.

Before celebrating too much, understand that while the term might not be used, the penalty will remain. Section notes that should a team receive an L1 of L2 penalty during the race or after it, they still face the fact that the finish will not count toward playoff eligibility, playoff points, advancement in the playoffs and determining the champion and other three finishers among the final four drivers in the title race.

In a sign of how hard it is to let go, the phrase “encumbered finish” still remains in multiple areas of Section 17 of the rule book (Points and Point Funds) when referencing that particular penalty.

Among a few other notes from the rules bulletin:

If a wheel is improperly installed and comes off after exiting the team’s assigned pit stall, the crew chief, tire changer responsible and jack man each will be suspended four races. Adding the jack man to those suspended for such a violation is new.

All L1 and L2 penalties discovered in pre-race may consist of a points deduction, and/or suspension of the crew chief and/or other team members, and/or fines. NASCAR may issue a points deduction less than the minimum outlined in the Minimum Penalty Options Chart.

Any engine that starts a race and completes 25 percent of the laps, or at NASCAR’s discretion, will qualify as a sealed engine for its next use. If a short block sealed engine is found to have any rule infractions when it is inspected, any resulting penalties will be imposed against every team that competed with that same short block sealed engine. If the same team used the short block sealed engine for multiple events, the penalty will be applied to each event separately.

If an individual or a team wishes to appeal an L1, L2, Safety or Member Conduct Penalty, they must make a written request for a hearing to the National Motorsports Appeals Panel within three business days of the penalty notice being issued. Previously, individuals and teams had to make a written request within 10 business days.

If a team member is ejected from an event, that position on the roster cannot be filled for that event.

If a car does not pass the rear wheel steer inspection after qualifying, the car’s time is disallowed. If a car does not pass the rear wheel steer after the race, the L1 penalty is a $65,000 fine, loss of 35 driver and owner points and a three-race suspension for the crew chief. Rear wheel steer will be among the areas examined by the new Hawkeye inspection system.

No Goodyear tire tests are scheduled this year for the Xfinity Series.

Cup teams will have a new right-side tire at Las Vegas, Bristol and Talladega in the first third of the season. Cup teams will have a new left-side tire at Auto Club Speedway, Texas, Kansas, Charlotte and Pocono in the first third of the season.

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