NASCAR: ‘Huge’ penalty ends up being meaningless

William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR playoffs (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR playoffs (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

The regular season and playoff points penalty issued by NASCAR to William Byron ended up being meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

Back in April, NASCAR docked Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron and his No. 24 team 60 points and five playoff points as a result of a greenhouse violation following the race at Richmond Raceway.

That penalty ultimately cost him seven playoff points in total, since the 60 regular points he lost dropped him from second to third place in the final regular season standings. As a result, he was only awarded an extra eight playoff points as opposed to 10.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin finished in second place in the standings instead, so he gained two playoff points as a result of the penalty.

Given that playoff points are added to each remaining championship contender’s point total at the start of each round of the playoffs, this penalty very well could have cost Byron and/or helped Hamlin in their respective pursuits of championship number one.

We have seen narrow margins determine who advances and who doesn’t from each round of the playoffs before, and tiebreakers have come into play on multiple occasions as well.

However, what was once viewed as a major penalty ended up being completely meaningless in the grand scheme of this year’s NASCAR Cup Series championship.

Byron ended up advancing to the Championship 4 on points, while Hamlin was eliminated in the round of 8. Additionally, at no point did Hamlin advance to the next round — or eliminate another driver — due to the two extra playoff points he gained from Byron’s penalty.

Unfortunately for Hamlin, “his year” resulted in yet another failure to win his first championship, while Byron successfully managed to lock into the Championship 4 for the first time in his career with a career-high and series-high six wins.

Joining him are teammate Kyle Larson, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell, and Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney, the three contenders who won the round of 8 races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, and Martinsville Speedway, respectively. Byron’s spot was the only spot left available on points.

The only thing that might end up being affected by his April penalty is the unofficial “points without playoffs” standings. Byron currently owns a three-point lead over Hamlin, but that lead would be 63 if not for his penalty.

Having said that, it would really be 38 without any penalties, since Hamlin himself was docked 25 points back in March after admitting to intentionally driving Trackhouse Racing Team’s Ross Chastain into the wall at Phoenix.

Notably, Hamlin’s penalty did not cost him anything in the regular season standings; there was no initial playoff point deduction nor resulting playoff point deduction. He still would have finished in second place without it, and he would have finished in third with or without it, had Byron not been penalized, so this penalty also ended up meaning nothing.

FanDuel Sportsbook, which is giving fans an extra $150 bonus for any successful $5 bet, lists Byron as the second favorite behind Larson to win the title, tied with Blaney and ahead of Bell.

Byron won the March race at the track, while Larson won there in November 2021 to secure his first championship.

Odds and availability subject to change, so lock in your chance at a $150 bonus today!

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The NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race is scheduled to take place this Sunday, November 5, and it is set to be broadcast live on NBC from Phoenix Raceway beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET. If you have not yet started a free trial of FuboTV, do so now!