NASCAR issued its weekly post-race penalty report early Tuesday and issued behavioral penalties to Craftsman Truck Series drivers Matt Crafton and Nick Sanchez for their roles in a post-race altercation last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.
Crafton and Sanchez made contact in the closing laps of Saturday’s playoff event, sparking a multitruck incident. Sanchez continued to a seventh-place finish, but Crafton’s race ended after 91 of the 99 laps because of terminal damage to his No. 88 entry.
Crafton — who was unhurt — stopped in Sanchez’s pit stall, got out, then directed harsh words toward the No. 2 team as he walked back to the garage. Post-race, witnesses said Crafton confronted Sanchez and punches flew. The rookie, bloodied by what he called a “cheap shot,” then made violent threats to Crafton, promising retribution in the tour’s next race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“I heard a little bit about it but not a lot,” Sanchez said of the pit-road exchange. “It’s Talladega. It’s plate racing. I mean yeah, it was an aggressive move I made, but I held my line, right? It is what it is and it happens every year.”
“I was walking back to the hauler, got a tap on my back, got punched in the face,” Sanchez told reporters after being treated and released from the infield care center. “Cheap shot, but is what it is I guess. I’m all for fighting, but no cheap shots, and I got a cheap shot. Never really had a chance to get him back, but it is what it is. It’s part of racing.”
Asked if he needed stitches, Sanchez replied: “No, I think they just glued my face and a slight break over here, I don’t know,” gesturing to the tip of his nose. “But I’m fine.”
Crafton was fined $25,000 for his actions. Sanchez was fined $5,000. Sanchez’s father, Rene, was also penalized for his involvement in the fracas, with officials suspending him from NASCAR for the remaining two races on the 2023 schedule.
NASCAR officials also penalized driver Chandler Smith for a violation during Saturday’s Cup Series Qualifying of Section 126.96.36.199.F, which has the heading of Driver Protective Clothing/Equipment. The safety infraction — in this case, failure to wear a required head sock and/or helmet skirt — resulted in a $10,000 fine to Smith, who finished a career-best 11th in his third Cup Series start.
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