<
>

NASCAR could suspend drivers for intentional wrecks

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- NASCAR won't call it the "Matt Kenseth rule," but it now has defined penalties for various behavioral infractions, including possible suspensions for drivers intentionally wrecking another vehicle in attempting to manipulate the outcome of the race or championship.

NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations Jim Cassidy said the rules announced Friday aren't designed to be any tougher on the actions, only to define the potential penalties where before NASCAR had no penalty guidelines for specific behavioral actions. Last year, Kenseth said he didn't think he would get suspended for intentionally wrecking race leader and potential championship candidate Joey Logano while nine laps down at Martinsville.

"I wouldn't tie this to any one specific event that has happened, but I would say what we've learned after talking to everybody is that everybody wants to understand more clearly where possible what potential ramifications will be in different scenarios, and this is an effort to go down that road," Cassidy said.

Under the guidelines, Kenseth would have lost 50 to 100 points, been fined $150,000 to $200,000 and/or received a suspension of two races or more. Kenseth was not docked points nor fined but was suspended two races.

Those sanctions would come under the penalty guidelines for premeditatedly removing another competitor from champion contention in a dangerous manner when not racing for position. NASCAR says that targeting another driver who is in a "highly vulnerable position" such as when stopped with a window net lowered or with significant race damage would elicit a similar response.

NASCAR specifically notes that it expects contact and that racing can be heated and that there will be times that "hard and sometimes aggressive racing while contesting a position that could result in routine racing contact." It also notes that a shoving match, shouting match or general venting in the heat of the moment after the race would elicit only a "mild response" of a warning or probation.

Actions that could result in a $10,000 to $50,000 fine would be disparaging the sport leadership, verbal abuse of NASCAR officials, media or fans and intentionally damaging another vehicle under yellow or red flag conditions or on pit road with no one else around.

Actions that could result in a points penalty of 25-50 points, a fine of $50,000-$100,000 and a one-race suspension would include intentionally wrecking another competitor, manipulating the outcome of the race or championship and physical confrontations.

NASCAR did not define penalties for disparaging comments on "race, color, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, age or handicapping condition." Penalties for that violation -- as well as criminal violations such as domestic assault -- would result "in a fine and/or indefinite suspension or termination."

The new rule said NASCAR would consider when the incident occurs, the ramifications to the sport, a driver's past history and impact to safety.

All penalties can be appealed.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.