Austin Dillon is the latest NASCAR driver to receive a points penalty because of illegal car modifications.
NASCAR announced Wednesday that Dillon would be penalized 60 points and for what it said was an illegal underwing assembly. Dillon also loses five playoff points if he qualifies for the postseason and his crew chief Keith Rodden was fined $75,000 and suspended for two races.
The penalty drops Dillon from 21st in the points standings to 29th and drops his points total to 122 through nine races. Dillon scored 25 points and finished 12th on Sunday at Martinsville. The infraction was found after Dillon’s car was taken to NASCAR’s R&D Center after the race for further evaluation.
Dillon has just two top-10 finishes so far in 2023. He was ninth in the second race of the season at Auto Club Speedway and was third at the Bristol dirt race. The penalty means Dillon will likely have to win a race over the next 17 regular-season races to make the postseason for the second consecutive year.
His Richard Childress Racing team could choose to appeal the penalty but it won’t have the chance to get its points penalty overturned even if an appeals panel rules that Dillon’s No. 3 team committed an infraction. After Hendrick Motorsports was able to get its four 100-point penalties wiped away at Phoenix even though it still had to pay a $400,000 fine, NASCAR changed the wording of its rule book to prevent appeals panels from removing points penalties from a punishment if the ruling isn’t entirely overturned.
Dillon’s penalty also comes a day after NASCAR said it had asked final appeals officer Bill Mullis to overturn a 100-point penalty against Justin Haley and Kaulig Racing. Like Hendrick Motorsports, Kaulig had its hood louvers confiscated at Phoenix and Haley and his car were penalized 100 points. Unlike Hendrick, the appeals panel hearing Kaulig’s appeal kept the 100-point penalty in place.
NASCAR said it wanted Kaulig’s penalty to match Hendrick’s in the interest of competitive fairness.
Hendrick’s louver penalty was the first time its teams had been penalized so far in 2023. William Byron and Alex Bowman were each docked 60 points after Richmond after NASCAR found problems with their cars’ greenhouse assembly.
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