NASCAR officials handed out two sizable penalties Tuesday for rough driving, docking William Byron and Ty Gibbs for their roles in separate incidents in last weekend’s Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Byron was hit with a 25-point penalty in both the driver and team owner standings for bumping Denny Hamlin out of position during a late-race caution period in Sunday’s AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 500 — a punishment that carries significant playoff implications. He was also fined $50,000.
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Byron was third in the Cup Series Playoffs with a 17-point cushion above the elimination line before the penalty. He’ll now enter Sunday’s YellaWood 500 (2 p.m. ET, NBC, NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM) at Talladega Superspeedway ranked 10th out of the 12 remaining title-eligible drivers and eight points below the provisional elimination line. Two races are left in the Round of 12 — Sunday at Talladega and Oct. 9 at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s road course.
Gibbs, in his 10th Cup Series start for 23XI Racing in place of the injured Kurt Busch, was fined $75,000 for veering into the No. 42 Petty GMS Chevrolet of Ty Dillon on pit road. That aggressive contact came in close proximity to pit-crew personnel and NASCAR officials working in a nearby pit stall.
Gibbs, 19, was not issued a points penalty since he is an Xfinity Series regular who does not collect Cup Series points. But his No. 23 Toyota team was handed a 25-point deduction in the owner standings.
It’s the second time this year that Gibbs has been penalized for unsafe driving on pit road. He was fined $15,000 for making contact with Sam Mayer’s car in the pits after an Xfinity Series race at Martinsville in April. That retaliation led to post-race fisticuffs between the two drivers.
NASCAR officials did not penalize Byron during Sunday’s 500-miler, saying their spotters did not see the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet send Hamlin’s No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota spinning under yellow-flag conditions in retaliation for earlier contact. Hamlin was not restored to his original running position, and he finished 10th. Byron came home seventh.
Each driver had strong words for the other post-race at Texas. Byron explained that he bumped Hamlin back to show his displeasure, but did not intend to spin Hamlin out. He added that he felt he was standing his ground, saying, “I’m pissed off, just not going to get run like that.”
Said Hamlin: “I’ll just add it to the list of guys when I get a chance. They’re going to get it.”