NASCAR: The appeal that saved William Byron’s season

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

If not for a successful appeal of a March penalty, William Byron would no longer be in contention to win the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series championship.

While he did not win a race in the round of 8, Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron qualified for the Championship 4 for the first time in his NASCAR Cup Series career.

Byron is set to compete against teammate Kyle Larson, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell, and Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney for the championship at Phoenix Raceway. Larson, Bell, and Blaney won at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, and Martinsville Speedway, respectively, in the round of 8 to clinch their Championship 4 spots.

Had it not been for a successful penalty appeal earlier in the season, however, Byron would not have secured his Championship 4 spot on points.

After the March race at Phoenix, all four Hendrick Motorsports teams, plus the three active full-time drivers (Chase Elliott was out with an injury), were docked 100 points and 10 playoff points due to hood louver violations. Each crew chief was also suspended for four races and fined $100,000.

A NASCAR appeals panel later overturned the points portion of these penalties.

Had the points portion of these penalties not been rescinded, Byron, who ended up being docked 60 points and five playoff points for a separate violation in April, would have finished in eighth place in the regular season standings instead of third, so he would have scored just two additional playoff points instead of eight heading into the playoffs.

So he would have lost a total of 16 playoff points, not just the 10 playoff points docked when he initially received the penalty. He would have started the playoffs with 20 playoff points instead of 36, and he would have started each ensuing round with 16 fewer points because of it.

Byron still would have advanced to the round of 12 on points, and he still would have advanced to the round of 8, since he won the round of 12 race at Texas Motor Speedway. But had his point total been 16 lower than it was, he would not have been able to advance to the Championship 4 on points.

Had that appeal not been successful, he would not be one of the four Championship 4 drivers. In fact, neither would Larson. Instead, Larson is the betting favorite to win the title at FanDuel Sportsbook, which is offering fans a $150 bonus for any successful $5 bet.

Unlike Byron, however, Larson would have been out in the round of 12.

Odds and availability are subject to change.

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Phoenix Raceway is scheduled to host the NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race this Sunday, November 5 beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET, with NBC set to provide live coverage. Begin a free trial of FuboTV now and don’t miss it!