(AP Photo/Terry Renna)
CONCORD, N.C. (AP) An appeals panel on Thursday reinstated the 25 points William Byron had been docked by NASCAR for deliberately spinning championship rival Denny Hamlin, a critical decision that helps his playoff hopes.
The three-person panel found that Byron did break a NASCAR rule for spinning Hamlin under caution. But Hendrick Motorsports had appealed the NASCAR penalty, which was initially a $50,000 fine and the loss of 25 critical points in the championship race.
The panel instead upped the fine to $100,000 and gave Byron back his points. The favorable ruling moved Byron from below the elimination line headed into Sunday's race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where the playoff field will be cut from 12 to eight.