NASCAR has dropped the hammer on another driver

Michael McDowell is the fifth driver to have been issued a massive penalty by NASCAR as a result of this past weekend’s race at Pocono Raceway.

Before Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch were disqualified from first and second place, respectively, in Sunday’s M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 NASCAR Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway, costing them 52 and 51 points in the standings, Petty GMS Motorsports teammates Erik Jones and Ty Dillon were issued 35-point penalties for a separate infraction.

But NASCAR wasn’t done dropping the hammer with these two sets of teammates, as they announced on Tuesday that Front Row Motorsports’ Michael McDowell had also been issued a massive penalty.

McDowell, who sat in 20th place in the point standings following his sixth place finish in Sunday’s 160-lap race around the three-turn, 2.5-mile (4,023-kilometer) Tricky Triangle in Long Pond, Pennsylvania, now sits in 26th.

McDowell was docked 100 points in the driver standings, and the #34 team was docked 100 points in the owner standings, after it was discovered at the NASCAR R&D Center in Concord, North Carolina that his #34 Ford contained an improperly modified part after Sunday’s race, an L2 infraction pertaining to Sections 14.1 C, D and Q of the NASCAR Rule Book.

McDowell was also docked 10 playoff points in the event that he qualifies for the playoffs.

Additionally, crew chief Blake Harris was fined $100,000 and issued a four-race suspension.

While the penalty may not seem super significant in terms of the standings, considering the fact that McDowell is winless and is nowhere near getting into the playoffs on points, it could prove significant if he wins one of the regular season’s final five races.

He could very well do so too, considering the fact that two of them are road course races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and Watkins Glen International, and one is a superspeedway race at the site of his first Cup Series win, Daytona International Speedway .

There have already been 14 different winners this season, meaning that there is still a good possibility that there will be more than 16 by the time the regular season ends.

While the playoff format is often referred to as a “win and in” format, that isn’t necessarily true, as there are 16 playoff spots no matter how many winners there are.

In the event that there are more than 16 winners, the multi-race winners are all locked in, but the single-race winners are not. Points are then used to determine which single-race winners make it and which don’t.

For example, if there are 17 different winners, the lowest single-race winner in the point standings will be left out. If there are 18, the lowest two will be left out.

So with McDowell having been docked 100 points, a scenario exists in which he misses the playoffs, even if he wins one of the regular season’s final five races, because of this deduction, depending on where all the other single-race winners end up in the standings when the regular season concludes.

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