What takes place in a NASCAR appeal hearing? Here’s a look
Hendrick Motorsports is scheduled to have its appeal hearing at 10 a.m. ET Wednesday.
So what will happen in the appeal hearing? Here is a look at the process, based on the NASCAR Cup Rule Book.
NASCAR penalized Hendrick Motorsports for modifications to hood louvers. Those penalties were:
- Docked Alex Bowman, Kyle Larson and William Byron 100 points and 10 playoff points each.
- Suspended crew chiefs Cliff Daniels, Alan Gustafson, Rudy Fugle and Blake Harris four races each and fined each $100,000.
- Penalized each of the four Hendrick teams 100 owner points and 10 playoff points.
Before the appeal hearing starts, both sides — in this case, Hendrick Motorsports and NASCAR — must file a written summary presenting their case before the hearing.
The summary must not be longer than two single-spaced pages. Any attachments or appendices either side intends to present during the hearing must be included. Such attachments or appendices may include, but are not limited to, video, written statements, diagrams, photographs and charts.
The summary is to be filed by 5 p.m. ET two days before the beginning of the hearing. The summary shall be confidential and not released to the public. The Cup Rule Book says that releasing the summary to the public “may result in a penalty.”
The appeal will be heard by three members. They will come from a pool of panelists. The Cup Rule Book lists 19 panelists. That group includes former drivers Mike Skinner, Lake Speed, Bill Lester, Shawna Robinson and Lyn St. James, along with others in various roles in motorsports.
The Cup Rule Book states that “in seating an Appeals Panel, the Administrator shall take into consideration the panelists’ availability, background, professional experience and knowledge.”
The Cup Rule Book states “the burden rests on NASCAR to show that it is more likely than not that a violation … has occurred, and that the Penalty Notice issued is within the guidelines of the NASCAR Rules.”
Both parties are allowed in the hearing room while each side presents evidence. NASCAR goes first.
After both sides finish, there is a break before an optional rebuttal period. NASCAR has the chance to go first, followed by those appealing.
Once that is complete, NASCAR is permitted one last opportunity to “argue, explain, or present rebuttal on the facts and violation” to the appeal panel since NASCAR carries the burden of proof.
The appeal panelists may ask questions to either group or any witnesses at any time during the hearing.
Decisions by the three-member National Motorsports Appeals Panel do not need to be unanimous.
The National Motorsports Appeals Panel can affirm the penalty or adjust it. The panel can rescind some or all of the penalties or increase any or all penalties.
When NASCAR penalized William Byron 25 points and fined him $50,000 for spinning Hamlin during a caution in last year’s playoff race at Texas, Hendrick Motorsports appealed. The National Motorsports Appeals Panel rescinded the 25-point penalty but increased his fine to $100,000. NASCAR amended its rule book after the panel’s decision.
NASCAR does not have the option to appeal the panel’s decision. Those who filed the appeal can further appeal the panel’s decision to the Final Appeal Officer. That decision can’t be appealed.
Kaulig Racing and Denny Hamlin each will go through this process when their appeals are heard. Kaulig Racing’s appeal is April 5 for modifications to a hood louver. Hamlin’s appeal is April 6 for intentionally wrecking Ross Chastain on the last lap of the Phoenix race.