NASCAR has announced point penalties and fines for both William Byron and Ty Gibbs in response to their actions during last weekend's NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas. Byron was fined $50,000 and penalized 25 points each in the driver's and owner's standings, while Gibbs, who is a full time Xfinity Series driver and does not score points in the higher-level Cup Series, was fined $75,000 and penalized just the 25 owner points.
While a suspension may have been more appropriate, Byron's penalty is at least substantial. As Byron is in the middle of the series playoffs, the 25 points significantly reduce his chance of advancing to the next round and, by extent, fighting for a championship later on down the line. He has moved from ahead of the cutoff line with two races remaining in the Round of 12 to 8 points below it, meaning he will need to pass at least two drivers in the standings in upcoming races at Talladega and the Charlotte infield road course if he hopes to advance to the Round of 8.
Gibbs, however, has not been punished in a lasting way. He was not punished in the series where he is competing in his own championship race, so his 25 points penalty only impacts the No. 23 23XI entry's fight to stay within the top 20 in the owner's points championship. As that car's primary driver is closing out the season in the No. 45 in relief of Kurt Busch and Gibbs is not expected to be at the team next year, the penalty puts effectively competition no impact on the driver at all.
Byron earned the penalty by spinning competitor Denny Hamlin under caution, an incident NASCAR officials later claimed they somehow did not catch in time to hand out an in-race penalty. Gibbs earned his with a dangerous hip check on the pit lane, one that could have shoved a competitor's car into crew members performing live stops at the time. In both cases, a suspension could have easily been justified. If nothing else, NASCAR is at least handing out some sort of penalty for poor on-track conduct; in recent years, that has been a rare thing.
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