On Tuesday morning, NASCAR issued its post-Talladega penalty report and included were penalties stemming from the garage scuffle between Matt Crafton and Nick Sanchez following Saturday’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event.
Both drivers have been fined for violating section 4.3. A and 4.4 D of the NASCAR Rule Book, which pertains to the NASCAR Member Conduct and NASCAR Member Code of Conduct.
For his role in the scuffle, Crafton has been fined $25,000 while Sanchez has been fined $5,000.
Elton Sawyer of NASCAR addressed the penalties for Sanchez and Crafton on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s The Morning Drive on Tuesday.
“I think if you look at our history with our drivers, and how we’ve handled these situations, suspension was definitely considered,” Sawyer said. “We had long conversations yesterday about that with our group, and this is where we landed. We felt with some of the comments that were made by Nick — and we totally understand that’s in the heat of the battle, understanding the situation — but we just can’t have those types of comments. That’s why he recieved the fine that he received.
“And then on Matt’s side, we looked at the fact that Matt had some time to think about the situation. It wasn’t like both drivers got out on pit road, the heat of the battle, they go down and have a discussion with each other. This spilled over into the garage some time after the event. Felt like it could have been handled different, that’s why Matt’s fine was $25,000.”
Additionally, Rene Sanchez — Nick Sanchez’s father — has been suspended for the remainder of the NASCAR season. Rene Sanchez was caught on video in the garage scuffle throwing punches, which is what led to his suspension. The suspension is consistent with penalties given to crew members when they are found to have been in altercations similar.
NASCAR will not accept crew members or family members becoming involved with drivers in disagreements.
“Having other people involved in that situation, whether it’s family, whether it’s pit crew members, it doesn’t matter. If you’re in the middle of that and you’re trying to break it up, that’s one thing. If you’re in the middle of that, and you’re throwing punches, we are going to react. We’re not going to tolerate that kind of behavior,” Sawyer explained.
Following the penalty report from NASCAR, Nick Sanchez released a statement accepting the penalty.
“At this time, I will accept NASCAR’s penalty issued after the post-race occurrence at Talladega,” Sanchez said. “It is a very unfortunate situation that negatively impacted a lot of individuals and the sport we all are so very passionate about and privileged to participate in each day.
“As for the incident, anything that doesn’t pertain to bettering myself as a race car driver or winning doesn’t have my energy or focus and never will. I look forward to continuing my quest for the Championship in Miami.”
Crafton’s frustrations with Sanchez stemmed from a late-race crash at Talladega, which he felt was caused by Sanchez being over-aggressive on the track.
When Sanchez parked in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series garage after the race, the two found themselves in a scuffle, which led to Sanchez having a bloodied face, and a potential broken nose.
Sanchez claimed that Crafton had come up to him from behind, tapped him on the back, and sucker-punched him to start the fight. Meanwhile, Crafton refuted the claim that he sucker punched Sanchez and said the two exchanged words before any punches flew.
Heading into the penultimate race of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season, Sanchez sits fourth in the championship standings, three points above the cut line for the Championship 4.
In addition to the penalties for Sanchez, his father, and Crafton, NASCAR also issued a $10,000 fine to full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series racer Chandler Smith for not wearing a helmet sock/helmet skirt during NASCAR Cup Series qualifying at Talladega Superspeedway.