The new policy puts the behavioral policy more in line with the penalty system for its technical infractions, which currently designated P1 through P6, which P6 being the most serious.
No such designation will be used in the personal conduct policy but the series' rulebooks have been updated with a list of consequences for a series of different infractions.
"NASCAR is an aggressive sport"
"This is not an effort to change the way the drivers race today," said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR's senior vice president of racing operations. "This is to provide the best level of transparency and clarity as we can to all those involved.
"NASCAR is an aggressive sport. We understand the drivers are going to be aggressive in racing for position. That is not going to change. That's a very significant point but we also understand there will be a point and time when a competitor will cross the line and they should have a better understanding what exactly may transpire if they do cross the line."
The consequences of personal conduct violations can range from mild to severe.
For instance, a meeting, warning, or probation may be issued for an incident that is determined to have taken place "in the heat of the moment."
On the other end of the spectrum, a member who is charged with "significant criminal violations" could result in large fines, indefinite suspension or termination of one's NASCAR license.
Cassidy said NASCAR has met with the stakeholders in NASCAR over the last several weeks, explaining the new conduct policy.
"After the favorable response to the change to the technical violations, we almost immediately turned to other parts of the rule book that we could continue to improve (transparency)," Cassidy said. "It didn't happen overnight."
Cassidy said the changes were not specifically in reaction to last year's incidents between drivers Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth in the Chase. However, under the new policy drivers involved in a similar situation will have no doubt as to the consequences of their actions, he said.
"What you'll see is an effort by the sanctioning body to improve the level of transparency within the realms of how competitors' actions are dealt with on the track and off the track," Cassidy said.
12.8.1 MEMBER CONDUCT GUIDELINES
Member action(s) that could result in a mild response such as a meeting, warning, probation:
- Heat-of-the-moment actions or reactions, either on or off the race track;
- Member-to-Member confrontation(s) without physical violence (e.g. shoving match, shouting match, or general "venting").
Member actions that could result in a $10,000-$50,000 fine and/or probation:
- Disparaging the sport and/or NASCAR's leadership;
- Verbal abuse of a NASCAR Official, media members, fans, etc.;
- Intentionally damaging another vehicle under yellow or red flag conditions or on pit road with no one around.
Member actions that could result in a loss of 25-50 Championship driver and Team Owner points and/or $50,000-$100,000 fine and/or one Race suspension, indefinite suspension, or termination:
- Physical confrontation with a NASCAR Official, media members, fans, etc.;
- Member-to-Member confrontation(s) with physical violence and other violent manifestations such as significant threat(s) and/or abuse and/or endangerment;
- Attempting to manipulate the outcome of the Race or championship;
- Intentionally wrecking another vehicle, whether or not that vehicle is removed from Competition as a result.
Member actions that could result in a loss of 50-100 Championship driver and Team Owner points and/or $150,000-$200,000 fine and/or two Race suspension, indefinite suspension, or termination:
- Targeting another driver who is in a highly vulnerable position, such as already stopped with window net lowered; or whose vehicle has already had one or more of its safety systems affected by crash damage, such as an exposed fuel cell, damaged roll cage, and so on.
- Premeditatedly removing another Competitor from championship contention in a dangerous manner when not racing for position based on the available evidence and specific circumstances of the incident.
- Without limiting the scope, examples could include a Competitor "waiting" for another Competitor and then taking action; taking a trajectory with the vehicle not normally taken such as from pit exit directly up into a vehicle in the racing groove; clearly forcing another Competitor into the wall in an abrupt and unambiguous manner; and so on.
Member actions that could result in a fine and/or indefinite suspension or termination:
- Public statement and/or communication that criticizes, ridicules, or otherwise disparages another person based upon that person's race, color, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, age, or handicapping condition.
- Being charged with or convicted of significant criminal violations (e.g. Domestic Violence, Trafficking, Assault), or having had determinations rendered by criminal or civil authorities that in NASCAR's judgement necessitate action. NASCAR will not pre-judge guilt or innocence in the criminal or civil legal system, or the guilt or innocence of the Member, but rather review each matter in its own context and circumstances and with regards to its potential effects upon the sport.
Factors that NASCAR may consider when reviewing a matter might include:
- When and where the incident(s) occurred;
- The perceivable or potential ramifications to others and/or to the sport;
- Available empirical data;
- Member's past history;
- Possible effects to fans, safety workers, crew members;
- Any extenuating circumstances;
- Was the explanation(s) plausible given the circumstances;
- Was there an indication of genuine remorse or attempts to work things out with the other party(s) in a civil manner; and so on.