Pa Bob Pokras
Posted by FOX Sports NASCAR

On Thursday, William Byron won his appeal of a 25-point penalty NASCAR handed down after the Sept. 25 Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, putting him in a much better position to advance to the semifinal round of the Cup Series playoffs.

The appeals panel increased Byron’s fine from $50,000 to $100,000, but reversed the points penalty, which has huge implications for the playoffs. NASCAR’s three-member appeals panel did not give a reason for changing the penalty — as is standard procedure — but team owner Rick Hendrick said the 25-point penalty was excessive for Byron, who spun Denny Hamlin under caution at Texas

Byron moved from 10th in the standings, 11 points below the cut line, to seventh in the standings and 14 points above the cut line heading into Sunday’s road race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where the 12 drivers still eligible to win the championship. will be reduced to eight.

On the subject: NASCAR elimination scenarios: What every driver needs to advance in Charlotte

The four drivers who did not win a round and scored the fewest points will be eliminated from the championship.

Austin Cindric and Chase Briscoe were eighth in the standings before the penalty and are now 12 points behind Daniel Suarez, who now occupies eighth, the last transfer spot. Christopher Bell goes from 33 pips below the cut line to 45 pips below, making what was already a likely must-have situation even more important.

But the change doesn’t just affect those below the cut line. It also affects those above the cut line, how much they have to do to win a spot regardless of what others do.

Ryan Blaney can win with 35 points (second place, not no stage points) is the only rider entering the race with a finish that can automatically overtake him with no stage points.

Ross Chastain 40 points will be required. Hamlin will need 47 points. Joey Logano and Kyle Larson 50 points will be required. They won’t know where they might finish or worry about what others are doing until after the second stage on Sunday.

Byron was initially penalized for spinning Hamlin with a caution at Texas. NASCAR did not penalize Byron during the race, and officials said afterward that they were paying attention to Martin Truex Jr.’s car (the reason for the caution) and did not realize Byron had spun Hamlin.

Byron and Hendrick Motorsports argued that the penalty was too harsh for what should have been a push on the bumper, not for spinning someone out. If Byron was placed at the back of the field, or perhaps docked for a lap or two, he would have a chance to pick up places (and points) by the end of the race. Had he been parked for the move, he would have lost 23 points.

“They could have put him in the back,” team owner Rick Hendrick said Sunday. “I don’t know why they waited and didn’t do anything. He didn’t want to spin him. He wanted to hit him, but William has a pretty clean record.

“I think 25 points in the playoffs is too much.”

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