NASCAR fines William Byron for collision with Denny Hamlin, upending playoff standings

With Bob Pockrass
FOX Sports NASCAR Writer

NASCAR says it didn’t have its eyes on William Byron spinning Denny Hamlin under caution when it happened in real time Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, but it reacted two days later.

NASCAR announced Tuesday that it docked Byron and his Hendrick Motorsports team 25 points and fined him $50,000 for his actions. The 25 points is essentially a 25 place penalty in the race finishing position as most places are worth one point.

The penalty could have a big impact on the playoffs, as 12 drivers, including Byron and Hamlin, remain in contention for the championship with two races remaining in NASCAR’s second (quarterfinal) round. Talladega and Charlotte Road remain all four drivers without a win in the round and ranked lowest among the 12 points will be eliminated from playoff contention.

Byron, who finished seventh at Texas while Hamlin was 10th, was 17 points ahead of the final result after Texas but now sits eight points behind as his points total dropped from 3,058 to 3,033.

William Byron on why he spun Denny Hamlin with caution

William Byron describes why he reacted cautiously when he hit Denny Hamlin and says he didn’t mean to lash out at him.

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With the penalty, drivers above the cutoff saw their cushions increase by seven. Ninth-ranked Chase Briscoe moved into eighth, his points total remaining at 3,041, and Austin Cindric is now ninth – the first under the current mark – with 3,034 points.

Points leader Joey Logano saw his cushion increase to 37 points, followed by Ross Chastain (+25), Kyle Larson (+23), Ryan Blaney (+22), Denny Hamlin (+15), Daniel Suarez (+11). ), Chase Elliott (+11) and Briscoe (+7). Those below the cutline are Cindric (-7), Byron (-8), Christopher Bell (-25) and Alex Bowman (-26).

Hendrick Motorsports announced Tuesday night that it will appeal the penalty.

Byron said he only intended to hit Hamlin under caution, not spin him, when the caution came out with about 66 laps remaining in Sunday’s race at Texas. He was angry at the way Hamlin had run him on a restart about 10 laps earlier.

“I was just trying to give him a light tap there,” Byron said. “Nothing malicious. You see it all the time.”

But the result was much more than a blow. Hamlin went from second to 16th and begged NASCAR to give him his spot back.

NASCAR officials said Sunday night that the move was not allowed, and NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller said late Sunday that they might have given Hamlin his seat back — if NASCAR had realized he had deliberately wandered by Byron. NASCAR would also consider dropping Byron to the back of the field, which would have been about 25th at the time.

Scott Miller on the Denny Hamlin-William Byron incident

Scott Miller on the Denny Hamlin-William Byron incident

NASCAR Senior Vice President Scott Miller said they did not see William Byron’s caution spin on Denny Hamlin in real time as they were focused on the accident.

“When we were in the tower, we were paying more attention to the real cause of the attention up there in sending our equipment,” Miller said Sunday night. “The William Byron-Denny Hamlin thing, we didn’t have eyes.

“We saw Denny go through the grass and by the time we got to a replay that showed the incident well enough to do anything, we were back on the green.”

Miller’s comments resulted in incredible responses from drivers on social media.

With the start of the playoffs, NASCAR began broadcasting an in-car camera from each car. This feed is not available to the broadcast partner – it is solely for use in the NASCAR app – but will be available to officials controlling the race through the sanctioning body’s broadcast production team.

Hamlin, for his part, suggested that NASCAR should take action.

“If you’re going to allow it, then I’m just going to try to get all my teammates to take all the competition with caution,” he said.

Denny Hamlin on his frustration with William Byron

Denny Hamlin on his frustration with William Byron

Denny Hamlin shared his take on what happened on the track under green and how he will handle things next.

In addition to Byron’s penalty, NASCAR fined Ty Gibbs $75,000 on Tuesday for slamming the door on Ty Dillon on pit road in retaliation for Dillon running into him when he left his pit stall. There were race members and NASCAR officials near Dillon’s car on pit road when Gibbs crashed into him.

Because Gibbs drives full-time in the Xfinity Series, he gets no points in the Cup Series and there was no points penalty. The 23XI Racing team had 25 points in the owners’ standings.

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including the last 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bambooand subscribe to FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass.

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