NASCAR: The major penalty that could be totally mitigated

William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR playoffs (Photo by Tim Heitman/Getty Images)
William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR playoffs (Photo by Tim Heitman/Getty Images) /

William Byron’s playoff points penalty from NASCAR could still prove detrimental. But he has himself positioned to mitigate it entirely.

Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron opened up the round of 12 of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs with a victory at Texas Motor Speedway, his series-leading sixth of the year, to secure the first spot in the round of 8. The win also scored Byron five more playoff points, giving him a series-high 41 this season.

However, Byron would have even more playoff points if not for a penalty that he and the No. 24 team were issued back in April after the race at Richmond Raceway, when NASCAR discovered a greenhouse violation on the No. 24 Chevrolet. Byron and the team were both docked 60 points and five playoff points.

The penalty ended up costing him additional two playoff points since the 60-point deduction ended up being the difference between him finishing in second and third place in the regular season point standings, so he received an additional eight playoff points instead of 10.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin gained an extra two playoff points because of it, having finished in second place instead of third.

Will those seven missing playoff points — and a nine-point swing in Hamlin’s favor — end up costing Byron in the long run?

It’s certainly possible, considering some of the slim margins with which we have seen drivers advance to or miss the next round over the years. But it hasn’t yet mattered for the sixth-year driver, and if he advances to the Championship 4, there is little chance that it will.

Of course, Byron could still end up in a situation where he misses the Championship 4 because of those missing points. He could also end up in a situation where Hamlin advances to the round of 8 and/or Championship 4 because of those two extra points, and then wins the championship over Byron.

In those scenarios, while William Byron himself may not have been affected, the indirect impact of the penalty could cost him a NASCAR Cup Series title.

Again, we’re talking razor-thin margins here, and these are just a handful of literally millions of possible scenarios regarding how the remaining six races of the season play out.

Byron is still in the best position of anybody, having locked himself into the round of 8 already — and with more playoff points than anybody else. He doesn’t have to worry about the inevitable chaos at Talladega Superspeedway and the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval to conclude the round of 12 like the other 11 remaining playoff drivers do.

He also controls his own destiny, and considering the fact that all three tracks on the round of 8 schedule — Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, and Martinsville Speedway — plus Phoenix Raceway, the host of the Championship 4 season finale, are tracks at which Byron has won, he has everything he needs to make sure this early-season penalty doesn’t end up coming back to bite him.

Following Byron’s win, FanDuel Sportsbook, which is issuing a guaranteed $200 to all who sign up and bet $5, lists him as the new favorite to win this year’s championship.

Odds and availability are subject to change, so lock in your guaranteed $200 now before it’s too late!

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Talladega Superspeedway is scheduled to host the second of three races in the round of 12 this Sunday, October 1. The YellaWood 500 is set to be broadcast live on NBC from the four-turn, 2.66-mile (4.281-kilometer) high-banked Lincoln, Alabama oval beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET. Begin a free trial of FuboTV now and don’t miss it!