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What Action Can NASCAR Take for the Matt Crafton and Nick Sanchez Fight?

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As of this writing, NASCAR is currently investigating an altercation that happened post-race between Matt Crafton and Nick Sanchez. Now, we do not know exactly what happened. Sanchez claims he was “sucker-punched” while Crafton claims there was a conversation and a threat made. Regardless of what happened, what official can NASCAR dish out based on past precedent?

What NASCAR Has Done Previously

When it comes to post-race altercations NASCAR has on most occasions stopped short of suspending drivers. Go all the way back to the 1979 Daytona 500, and all they did was fine Donnie Allison, Cale Yarborough, and Bobby Allison along with placing both Bobby and Donnie on probation.

Generally speaking, that is the course of action with post-race altercations involving two drivers with equal amounts of aggression towards each other. If a situation escalates beyond just words being exchanged, NASCAR will often pull out the old probation and fines. All of these incidents below did not result in a suspension for anybody.

It is easy to see why this is the case. NASCAR uses fights for promotional material because they highlight how high emotions run in the series. It shows how far these drivers are willing to go to have success in the sport.

Therefore, if NASCAR brought down too hard of a hammer on fighting, that would cease to exist. On top of that, it allows drivers to settle incidents on track amongst themselves. That’s what any adult would prefer when they have a problem with someone else. However, sometimes it goes too far.

It is very rare that NASCAR actually suspends a driver for an altercation, but it has happened before. The most recent incident came in 2003 when Jimmy Spencer punched Kurt Busch following contact in the Cup Series race at Michigan. Spencer was suspended for the next week and fined.

The incident actually triggered a police investigation, and Busch accused Spencer of assault in the media. However, no charges were officially filed. Still, this highlights the type of incident that NASCAR will suspend a driver for.

An argument that spins out of control into a shoving match is one thing. However, waiting for a driver and “Sucker-punching” them without even a discussion is not okay. That is exactly the determination that NASCAR needs to make.

What NASCAR Has to Determine

NASCAR’s investigation will have to determine whether or not this was a “Sucker punch” incident or an argument that spun out of control. Both drivers give a very different story about what triggered the altercation to begin with.

If Sanchez’s story is true, and Crafton did “sucker punch” him, then NASCAR’s precedent is to likely suspend Crafton. However, Crafton’s story is that there was a threat given by Nick Sanchez before the punch happened. If that happened, it would be a very different story.

Given the bloodied face of Sanchez following the fight, NASCAR will probably not let this go as “boys have at it” if that is the case. If this is what happened, then there will probably be a fine along with potential probation for whoever NASCAR determined instigated it. It may not be out of the question for NASCAR to give Crafton a point penalty either, but, that is unlikely just because Sanchez getting one could throw the Playoff grid off.

Ultimately, NASCAR has to distinguish what type of incident this was. That is what the penalty will depend on, and precedent has been set for both types of incidents as well.

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