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NASCAR penalizes William Byron for Denny Hamlin clash, shaking up playoff standings

By Bob Pockrass

FOX Sports NASCAR Writer

NASCAR says it didnt have its eyes on William Byron turning Denny Hamlin under caution when it just happened instantly Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, nonetheless 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 are essentially a penalty of 25 spots in race finishing position, because so many spots are worth one point.

The penalty may have a big effect on the playoffs, as 12 drivers, including Byron and Hamlin, remain in contention for the championship with two races remaining in NASCARs second (quarterfinal) round. Talladega and the Charlotte road course remain, and the four drivers who dont win in the round and sit lowest on the list of 12 in points will undoubtedly be eliminated from playoff contention.

Byron, who finished seventh at Texas while Hamlin was 10th, was 17 points prior to the cutoff following Texas however now sits eight points below, as his point total dropped from 3,058 to 3,033.

William Byron on why he spun Denny Hamlin under caution

William Byron describes why he reacted under caution in tapping Denny Hamlin and says he didnt mean to spin him out.

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With the penalty, the drivers above the cutoff all saw their cushions increase by seven. Ninth-place Chase Briscoe moved into eighth, along with his point total still at 3,041, and Austin Cindric is currently ninth the initial one below the existing cutoff with 3,034 points.

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

Hendrick Motorsports announced Tuesday night that it’ll appeal the penalty.

Byron said he meant and then tap Hamlin under caution, not spin him, once the caution arrived with about 66 laps remaining in the race Sunday at Texas. He was angry with just how Hamlin had raced him on a restart about 10 laps earlier.

“I was just attempting to give him a light tap there,” Byron said. “Nothing malicious. You view it on a regular basis.”

However the result was a lot more when compared to a tap. Hamlin went from second to 16th and pleaded with NASCAR to provide him his spot back.

NASCAR officials indicated Sunday night that the move had not been allowable, and NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller said late Sunday they may have given Hamlin his spot back if NASCAR had realized he was intentionally spun by Byron. NASCAR also would’ve considered dropping Byron to the trunk of the field, which would’ve been with us 25th in those days.

Scott Miller on the Denny Hamlin-William Byron incident

NASCAR Senior Vice President Scott Miller said they didn’t see William Byron spinning Denny Hamlin under caution instantly, because they were centered on the accident.

“Whenever we were in the tower, we were paying more focus on the actual reason behind the caution up there in dispatching our equipment,” Miller said Sunday night. “The William Byron-Denny Hamlin thing, we’d no eyes on.

“We saw Denny feel the grass, and by enough time we surely got to a replay that showed the incident sufficiently to accomplish anything to it, wed gone back again to green.”

Millers comments led to incredulous responses from drivers on social media marketing.

With the beginning of the playoffs, NASCAR has started streaming an in-car camera out of every car. That feed isn’t open to the broadcast partner it’s exclusively for use on the NASCAR app nonetheless it would be open to officials in race control through the sanctioning bodys broadcast productions group.

Hamlin, for his part, suggested that NASCAR had to do this.

“If youre likely to allow it, then Im just likely to make an effort to get all my teammates to obtain all of the competition under caution,” he said.

Denny Hamlin on his frustration with William Byron

Denny Hamlin shared his perspective on which happened on the track under green and how he’ll handle things in the years ahead.

As well as the Byron penalty, NASCAR fined Ty Gibbs $75,000 on Tuesday for door-slamming Ty Dillon on pit road in retaliation for Dillon’s swinging into him when leaving his pit stall. There have been race members and NASCAR officials near Dillon’s car on pit road when Gibbs ran into him.

Because Gibbs drives full-time in the Xfinity Series, he will not get points in the Cup Series, and there is no points penalty. The 23XI Racing team was docked 25 points in the dog owner standings.

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He’s got spent decades covering motorsports, like the past 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass, and join the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass.

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