By Bob Pockras
FOX Sports Writer NASCAR
Brad Keselowski will appeal his 100-point penalty on Thursday, and it’s a process that many see as an uphill battle.
Over the past three years, 11 appeals have resulted in seven sanctions confirmed, two sanctions modified and two rescinded. This “success” percentage is much better than previous years, as many teams don’t care about what they think is a futile process.
Keselowski has reason to appeal: The 100-point driver and owner standings penalty is huge and includes tying up 10 playoff points if he makes the playoffs. The penalty also includes a four-race suspension and a $100,000 fine to crew chief Matt McCall, who has already served two races of his suspension.
NASCAR said the team had an illegally sole-sourced modified part on its 12th-place car in Atlanta last month. Sources familiar with the breach say a rear body panel on the bumper has been modified. The question will be whether this was done intentionally – and whether that matters in imposing a penalty.
What is the appeal procedure? NASCAR’s rulebook chapter on appeals has 29 sections. Here are some of the key elements.
*NASCAR has a two-step appeals process for regular appeals. The first is an appeal with three members of the appeal committee. If a team loses that appeal, they can appeal to the final appeals officer (if NASCAR loses an appeal, the process is over; NASCAR cannot appeal the panel’s decision to the FAO). For race disqualifications, there is only one appeal to a panelist (or the Final Appeals Officer may hear the case).
*Teams have three business days after receiving a penalty notice (not counting the day they receive the notice) to file an appeal, with two exceptions: 1) An appeal that needs to be expedited due to involvements in the playoffs or the championship must be deposited in a single company. daytime. 2) A race disqualification appeal is usually due by noon the next business day, but NASCAR specifies this deadline on its race disqualification notice. The cost of a regular call in the Cup series is $1,000 non-refundable; for race disqualification appeals, it is $5,000 non-refundable.
*Teams can request that suspensions be deferred pending appeal, which is usually granted, although suspensions related to charges of violent crime, trafficking, endangerment, etc. are not postponed. Appeals are supposed to be heard within 30 days (except for expedited appeals).
* NASCAR has an appeal committee of approximately 60 members who can hear appeals. Their industry experience ranges from track marketing and promotion, ex-racers, crew chiefs, engine builders and mechanics. NASCAR generally selects at least one panel member whose area of expertise coincides with the sanction imposed. Both parties may request that a panelist be replaced due to a conflict of interest, such as someone who has a financial relationship with one of the parties, a current or past employment or business relationship with the party or anything that could lead to the appearance of impropriety or undermine the integrity of the hearing or decision. NASCAR’s appeals administrator determined whether the conflict of interest warranted a change.
* NASCAR and the caller may submit call summaries (no more than two pages, standard-size letterhead, 12-point Times New Roman font, single-spaced) along with photos, diagrams, charts, etc. relevant. These summaries – which are not to be made public – are given to the opposing party. Each party must also give the Appeals Administrator and the other party 24 hours’ notice of any witness it plans to call. Neither party may call a witness from the other party’s witness list.
* Both parties are in the appeal room at all times and can hear testimony. On an initial appeal, the burden of proof rests with NASCAR. In a final appeal, the burden of proof rests with the team.
* What is proof? NASCAR uses the wording typically used in civil lawsuits of “more likely than not”. In other words, it’s not “beyond a reasonable doubt,” like in a criminal trial.
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* The Appeals Committee has the ability to call any person with a NASCAR license to testify, and that person must testify. If they don’t, they could be suspended by NASCAR.
* During a hearing, the members of the Jury of Appeal may ask questions of anyone present, but neither party may ask questions of the opposing party or the opposing party’s witnesses. Neither the team nor NASCAR may have legal representation. Witnesses who are not parties to the sentence may be barred from hearing any testimony. NASCAR gives its case first, then the appellant. They then get a short break to determine rebuttals; NASCAR goes first, then the caller, then NASCAR again because NASCAR has the onus. The recording of the debates is prohibited.
* During the hearing, any speculation about the impact of the sanction – for example whether the sanction could shut down a team economically or put the team in breach of a contractual obligation with a sponsor – should not be taken into account. account by the panel.
* Making the decision is a two-step process: First, determine if a violation has occurred. Second, if an infraction has occurred, determine if the penalty should be changed. The panel has the option to increase or decrease the penalty, although neither the panel nor the final appeals officer is permitted to deviate from the range of penalties listed for the offense (offenses are primarily categorized in the category “Level 1”, “Level 2” or “Level 3”) in the rulebook “unless there are compelling circumstances unique to the violation which require the Panel members to decide that the system of deterrence as written and published does not apply in this case.”
* Once the hearing is over, the members of the appeal committee deliberate. It doesn’t have to be a unanimous decision; just a majority among the three. NASCAR does not disclose how a panelist votes, but shares if it is a unanimous decision. Typically, panelists make a decision on the day of the call, but may take up to 10 days to make their decision. If it is an expedited appeal or an appeal for disqualification from the race, the panelists have 12 hours to deliberate. If they cannot reach a decision, the penalty is automatically appealed to the final appeals officer.
* The finals call officer for 2022 is Roger Werner, a former cable television executive with a long motorsport history. If he can’t hear a last call, the first alternate is Chris Harris, a Daytona Beach-area attorney with extensive motorsports experience.
Bob Pockrass has spent decades covering motorsports, including the last 30 Daytona 500s. He joined FOX Sports in 2019 after stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @bobpockrass. Looking for more NASCAR content? Sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR newsletter with Bob Pockrass!
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