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The Most Penalized NASCAR Pit Rules

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What’s Happening?

When it comes to winning races in NASCAR, some of the most detrimental roadblocks to taking the checkered flag are pesky pit road penalties. These penalties can absolutely destroy any chance a driver has at being there at the end to challenge for a win, no matter how strong their car. We know that they play a major role and can have a huge impact on the outcome of multiple races per year, but what pit road penalties seem to happen the most?

  • This list will focus on the most commonly occurring pit road penalties seen in NASCAR during the 2023 season, specifically the top three.
  • The lasting impacts of these penalties can be seen in the finishing positions of the drivers hit with these penalties.
  • We will also examine the severity of each listed penalty and the most impacted teams and organizations.

3. Too Many Men Over the Wall

According to data from the 2023 season, teams having too many men over the wall was the third most common pit road penalty, making up 23 of the 293 pit road penalties tallied in 2023. What exactly is this penalty? Well, it is pretty self explanatory actually! A maximum of 6 crew members are allowed over the wall and in the pit box during a stop. Usually, it is 5 (jackman, front and rear tire changers, fueler, and tire carrier), with the sixth only being allowed to perform driver service when needed. When more than 6 are over the wall, teams will be hit with a passthrough penalty under green flag conditions, or restarting at the rear of the field under yellow flag conditions.

2. Crew Members Over the Wall Too Soon

This penalty slightly edged the previous by one occurrence in 2023, accounting for 24 of the 293 pit road penalties tallied on the year. Similar to too many men over this wall, this penalty is defined as when crew member’s feet and/or pit equipment must not touch the pit road surface before the vehicle is one pit box away from its assigned pit box or the equivalent marked distance. Basically, when crew members are over the wall and in the box before their car is within one pit stall from their own, the penalty will be handed down from NASCAR Officials. The punishment is the same as too many men over the wall, in that a pass through penalty must be served under green, or restarting at the back of the field under yellow.

Visual example of crew members being over the wall too soon. This clip shows Chris Buescher’s crew over the wall and in the pit box before Buescher was within one stall of his own.

1. Speeding

You knew this one was coming! The most common penalty seen on pit road is, of course, speeding. Accounting for a staggering 134 of 293 pit road penalties, which equates to 45.7%, meaning nearly half of all penalties on pit road were issued for this infraction. It is easy to see why this is such a common occurrence, due to drivers trying to get everything they can and push the limits (literally). On pit road, milliseconds can make a difference, so drivers will do everything they can to gain an advantage, sometimes pushing it too far, and often resulting in a loss of a lap, and sometimes ending championship runs, like Martin Truex, Jr. found out at Martinsville in 2023. Surely with such a common penalty, someone has to be caught more often than others, right? But who might that be?

Drivers Caught Speeding the Most

Looking at data from Racing Reference dating back 10 years to the 2014 season, five drivers have been nabbed for speeding more than 50 times, those being Austin Dillon (50), Kyle Busch (50), Denny Hamlin (50), Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (52), and Michael McDowell (56). McDowell not only holds the crown for most pit road speeding penalties in the last 10 years, but was caught a whopping 13 times in just the 2018 season alone!

Most Penalized Organizations and Drivers

When it comes to being penalized on pit road, data suggests certain organizations tend to be the culprits more than others. In 2023, the most penalized organization on pit road was Joe Gibbs Racing with 32, followed by Rick Ware Racing’s 30, and Front Row Motorsports 26. Based on the previous data from Racing Reference, which included JGR driver Hamlin and FRM driver McDowell as some of the most penalized speeders on pit road, this data corroborates. More data from 2023 shows that McDowell and Austin Dillon were two of the three most penalized drivers when it came to pit road violations, with 15 penalties a piece, which also lines up with the Racing Reference data that has them as two of the five drivers with the most speeding penalties.

Final Thoughts

Well, there you have it! The most common pit road penalties, the drivers and teams that are caught the most, and how they can impact the teams and drivers. If you liked learning more about this, check out some of our other stories on similar topics on The Daily Downforce, and let us know what content you’d like to see by connecting with us on our social channels!

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