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Why Are NASCAR Penalties So Inconsistent This Year?

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What’s Happening?

On Tuesday, NASCAR announced that Carson Hocevar was penalized for intentionally wrecking Harrison Burton under caution at Nashville. However, this penalty was not the same for other similar incidents this season, so why has officiating been so inconsistent?

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  • Four wrecks occurred this year, all of which were either deemed intentional or seemingly intentional. Each incident was penalized slightly differently.
  • Was there a reason for these incidents being penalized slightly differently? Well, as we dig deeper, each incident was slightly different.
  • Fans do not like it when NASCAR is inconsistent. It’s one of fans’ biggest complaints anytime penalties come up, especially if they are deemed too severe or too light.

North Wilkesboro All-Star Race: Kyle Busch and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No Penalty)

At North Wilkesboro, Kyle Busch and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. got into each other on lap one. Busch retaliated by pushing Stenhouse Jr. into the outside wall in turn one, and Stenhouse responded by confronting and punching Busch after the race. Stenhouse Jr. was hammered with a $75,000 fine, two crew member suspensions, and Stenhouse Jr.’s dad being indefinitely suspended. Busch, however, was not penalized for his original move on Stenhouse Jr.

Busch denied intentionally wrecking Stenhouse, instead pulling out the old Dale Earnhardt line, saying he intended to “Rattle his cage.” Typically, NASCAR hasn’t penalized drivers for bump and runs gone wrong, so, this was relatively consistent. However, a similar incident later on this list was not treated the same way.

Charlotte (Xfinity): Austin Hill vs Cole Custer

At Charlotte in May, Austin Hill and Cole Custer got caught up in a wreck late in the race. Hill showed his displeasure by shoving Custer down the backstretch and hooking him into the inside wall. NASCAR did not penalize Hill during the race, but they did drop the hammer on Monday with a $25,000 fine and a 25-point penalty.

NASCAR does not take this kind of intentional wreck kindly, such as suspending Chase Elliott and Bubba Wallace in the Cup Series for right-hooks into the wall under green. This happened under caution at a slower pace, so that is probably why the penalty was slightly less severe. A similar incident came up later on this list.

Nashville (Trucks): Layne Riggs vs Stefan Parsons

At Nashville in the Truck Series, Layne Riggs and Stefan Parsons were racing hard for position, with Parsons shoving Riggs up the track one lap. Later, Riggs shoved Parsons into turn three, sending Parsons into the wall. Riggs was held for two laps as the penalty.

Why was Riggs penalized for this, but Busch was not penalized for a similar move at North Wilkesboro earlier this year? One factor is that Nashville is a high-speed track, whereas North Wilkesboro is a low-speed short track, which may have played a role. Typically, NASCAR is a bit more lenient when moving on a short track due to the tight racing, but it’s still strange that they dropped the hammer here and not there. It’s also strange how this was officiated compared to later in the weekend.

Nashville (Cup): Carson Hocevar vs Harison Burton

Under caution at Nashville, Carson Hocevar right-hooked Harrison Burton around, but Burton kept on going with minimal damage. Instead of penalizing Hocevar on the spot as they did with Riggs two nights before, NASCAR decided to wait until Tuesday. The penalty was the same as Austin Hill for wrecking Cole Custer under caution, 25 points, and a $25,000 fine.

So, it’s consistent in one aspect, but NASCAR handled something similar totally differently on Friday. What gives between the two? Riggs’ incident was under green at high speed, so that probably prompted NASCAR to act more quickly. The Hill vs Custer incident is a closer comparison anyway, but it’s still strange how things were different.

Has NASCAR been inconsistent? These incidents are unique in some aspects but similar in others, and NASCAR handled them differently, generally speaking.

What do you think about all this? Let us know on Discord or X what your take is, and donā€™t forget you can also follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and even YouTube.

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